Polyamory in the News!
. . . by Alan



November 23, 2014

Post Number 1,000: Poly being seen as a next cool thing... and some history


This is my 1,000th post to Polyamory in the News. So maybe it's time for a look back, and ahead.

When I began this project in 2005, the future of the poly movement didn't look so promising. Loving More magazine (printed on paper) and its conferences had been the movement's centerpiece since the early to mid-1990s, but Loving More had nearly collapsed after the departure of its sparkplug Ryam Nearing. Newspapers and other media rarely allowed the word "polyamory" to appear in stories — because, we were told, it was unknown to readers, technical-sounding, and not in the dictionary.

Few people had even heard of the concept. Those who did mostly thought "old hippies." An article around that time mused about whether this idea could ever attract more interest or was destined to remain a small, little-noticed corner of the human potential movement.

Nevertheless, things had advanced a lot since my last tries to advocate for group relationships in the early 1980s. At that time I'd given up on finding any kind of movement at all. I was impressed by the quality of the new people and the sophistication of their ideas.

But the most active poly site I found was polyamory.livejournal.com with about 1,300 members. The internet gave the impression that the late 1990s were the high point, or at least the start of a plateau. The breakup of one well-known quad threw much of the community into a panic of self-doubt, as was parodied in this comic.

So I never thought the movement would grow and mature as incredibly fast as it has in these last nine years.

In 2006, the well publicized entry of polyamory into dictionaries seemed to break the dam against the media using the word. As a result, interested people could find something to google. Meanwhile Loving More had gotten back on its feet, the Washington Post gave landmark coverage to Loving More's Poly Living conference in 2008, and in 2009 a big Newsweek feature stirred up national attention. "America's next romantic revolution," they called it. Activity seemed to be increasing everywhere (thanks, people!!). At the beginning of 2010 when Wired announced "Internet Pushes Polyamory to Its 'Tipping Point'," I wrote that we campaigners for poly awareness "sometimes get a sense that big things are actually starting to happen."

Since then the story has been all about growth and increasing confidence, much greater public awareness, and widening diversity and maturity. There are ever more websites and blogs, social groups and meetups, conferences and gatherings, advice and discussion sites (a few topping 20,000 members, one at 41,000), a TV series, and so much media attention that it's become routine. There are now 40 nonfiction books about polyamory, 25 of them published in the last eight years. And we're seeing a demographic shift toward millennials, many of whom take the availability of the concept for granted.

What's next? The poly movement is just one part of wider changes in attitudes about relationships, especially a growing public interest in what sociologists are calling "consensual non-monogamy," or "CNM." A much more dramatic shift, of course, has been the rapid public acceptance of gay relationships. Together these are part of a trend toward relationship choice: people gaining the knowledge and skills, and then seizing the right, to build their intimate lives as they choose.

Which, as Barry Smiler points out, is just another step in the 500-year arc toward freedom and personal agency that defines Western civilization. Which makes it look hard to stop.

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

Here are some recent straws in the wind of people seeing the poly movement as the future. Some of them may be a little starry-eyed, but here you go.

● Huffington Post:


Are Unconventional Sexual and Romantic Relationships Becoming More Mainstream?

By Douglas LaBier

A recent Pew poll found that millennials have a steadily declining rate of marriage. There are several possible reasons for this, but I think it highlights a broader, changing reality: We're in the midst of a social and cultural evolution regarding the kinds of romantic, sexual and intimate relationships men and women seek and what they experience as fulfilling.

...For example:

Polyamory: The subject of an [sic] annual conference, polyamory relationships are those in which people have multiple partnerships at once with the full knowledge of all involved. A comprehensive report in LiveScience describes how jealousy works in polyamorous relationships, how children in polyamorous families experience them. It also explores several other new findings, including that some polyamorous people report feeling energized by their multiple relationships and say that good feelings in one translate to good feelings in others.

Open relationships: A variant of polyamory [sic], open relationships received some attention in the 1970s among young baby boomers... and looks like it's re-emerging in new form — now called consensually non-monogamous (CNM) relationships. In them, committed partners mutually agree not to be sexually and/or romantically exclusive to one another. Some recent research finds, for example, that up to 40 percent of men and up to 25 percent of women in a monogamous relationship said they would switch to a CNM if they lived in a world where everyone had open relationships. Currently, the research finds a continuum: some people are completely monogamous, others are completely nonmonogamous, and many more are somewhere in between.

Polygamy: Stretching the boundary even further, some suggest that polygamy will become increasingly accepted as a form of relationship in our society....

As our society, culture and world become increasingly co-mingled and diverse, we're witnessing a corresponding evolution in what men and women -- straight, gay; younger and older -- look for in the kinds relationship that they want to enter and build....


Read the whole article (Nov. 19, 2014).


● Things polyfolks can teach everyone, from the Psychology Today blogsite:


Stay Monogamous Using Polyamorous Principles

By Kristen Mark

We have recently seen public discourse challenge monogamy; messages noting it as unnatural, unrealistic, and breeding infidelity.... Others have provided evidence that polyamory may be good for you.

...What if couples who wanted to be monogamous could use some of the principles of polyamory in monogamy?

...Prevalence rates of consensual non-monogamy have been noted to be between 4% and 11% [2]. For people who are open to consensual non-monogamy, it works. Consensual non-monogamous couples report high levels of trust, communication, and satisfaction [3],[4]. But it isn’t for everyone.

A recent issue of Psychological Inquiry provided a number of scientific articles about the current state of monogamy and marriage. One paper in particular outlined how most of us are guilty of psychologically and emotionally suffocating our romantic partners in monogamous relationships [5]. Another offered a solution to this problem in the form of consensual non-monogamy [6]. Although their paper was incredibly interesting and made a great case for embarking upon a polyamorous relationship, its applicability may be limited to people who are open to consensual non-monogamy. And we know this isn’t the majority of people. So here is how these principles can be applied to monogamous relationships while retaining monogamy:

Don’t expect one person to meet all of your needs.

We expect so much from our partners. We want them to be our best friend, our confidant, our lover, caretaker, and a number of other things all at once. This isn’t possible to get from one person. Find other people to meet some of those needs. Lifting some of the weight from your partner can provide more room to be good at just a couple of those things....

Engage in open and honest communication.

One of the things people in consensual non-monogamous relationships do best is communicate. They have to.... This doesn’t just happen overnight....

Integrate some “space” into your relationship.

...When your partner is doing something where they exert their autonomy, it enhances the feeling of your partner being their own individual, which in turn may enhance desire.

...Integrating consensual non-monogamy principles into monogamous relationships offers the potential for some of the benefits of non-monogamy to be integrated into the lives of many.


Read the whole article with the references and other links (Nov. 14, 2014).


● The crucial role of poly pioneers, at Poly Peeps:


Early Adopters of Open Relating

The term early adopter refers to an individual who is amongst the first to try a new product, technology or service. In our context, it refers to the modern polyamorists; social pioneers who have found monogamy to be inadequate for their needs and who have found a polyamorous model more suited to their proclivities.

Early adopters are the trend setters. These are the individuals who were doing [insert activity here] before it was “cool” and “hip.” And they are eager to remind you of this, as if it were a badge of honor. And so it should be.

...The early adopters of polyamory are... actively seeking to find their own happiness instead of blindly following in the footsteps of prior generations. This group does deserve recognition and applause. These are the brave. These are the strong. These are the social pioneers. Others who follow do so in the trails that these early adopters forged when the terrain was much less tamed.

Who is an early adopter of polyamory? While polyamory has been practiced in its modern iteration for decades, the concept has still not achieved mainstream social acceptance and thus, is not yet “cool.” Of course those who actually engage in the practice know otherwise, but for this to expand to a more mainstream awareness, the early adopters will have to educate and inform the population.

If you are an early adopter, this responsibility falls on you, as it does on me. We possess knowledge and experiences that others are still only curious about. There will be those who become disillusioned with monogamy but will not understand what alternatives and choices they have....

It is not our role to overstep our boundaries, proselytize and impose our relating styles. But in the honoring of consent is where the duty to educate and inform springs forth....

The principles and practices we engage in will, decades from now, be traditions adhered to by future generations.


Read the whole article (Nov. 18, 2014).


● At Elephant Journal, "dedicated to the mindful life":


We Are What We Love: How Polyamory Can Change the World for the Better.

By Krystal Baugher

...For the longest time I’ve been grappling between the theory and the reality of polyamory, which is the idea of being in multiple intimate relationships. I remember the moment when I felt I could dive into the polyamorous lifestyle and I would come out okay in the end. It was actually while I was watching the movie Adaptation.... Two characters' conversation went something like this:
Donald: I loved Sarah, Charles. It was mine, that love. I owned it. Even Sarah didn’t have the right to take it away. I can love whoever I want.

Charlie: But she thought you were pathetic.

Donald: That was her business, not mine. You are what you love, not what loves you. That’s what I decided a long time ago.

...Even though bell hook’s book, All About Love: New Visions has an overall monogamous tone, I’d like to discuss why her theory and definition of love could, when combined with polyamory, actually transform the world into a much better place....


Read the whole article (Sept. 24, 2013).


● At A Black Poly Man:


Polyamory: The New Fad

Poly family, I'm worried. Polyamory has gained popularity over the last few years.... Mainstream society has finally begun to recognize that heterosexual monogamy might not work for each and every human being. So why am I worried?

Because I don't want this lifestyle to become a fad, a quick cash-in for the media sharks to utilize....

I'm conflicted on this issue as on the one hand I do want people who would identify as poly but have no idea that there is name and, better still, a community for them to join to know about it -- but I loathe the idea of the lifestyle being something for all the Abercrombie and Fitch crowd to "do" on their days off from nothing.... It won't help at all if it's the "hot new thing to try."....


The whole article (March 12, 2014).


● And this post by a mono-identified person to reddit/r/polyamory (23,000 members) just a few days ago:


For a long time, I just lurked in this subreddit and couldn't figure out why I enjoyed reading it so much. It dawned on me one day and decided I'd let you all know why you guys are top notch.

I don't know if it takes more emotional insight or empathy to have successful polyamorous relationships, but you all exhibit those qualities more than any other sub[reddit] I've come across. Some advice doesn't transfer, but the concepts do. I've learned so many things about all relationships -- not just romantic ones. If I'm speaking honestly though, I like coming here because you're all smart, well-versed, patient, understanding, supportive, and can communicate effectively. This sub is a breath of fresh air.


Riding a wave, we are! When is the other shoe going to drop? And when it does, what will be the reason?

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November 20, 2014

"The well-organized home life of a polyamorous Springfield family"



This week's cover story for the alternative newspaper of western Massachusetts (for which I once worked!) is a thoughtful profile of an area quad family with kids.

Stories like this, hundreds of them as the years go by, are steadily helping to get us to public awareness and acceptance. People like these sharing their lives make life a little easier for all of us. Thank you.


Dishes, Dinner, & Sex: The well-organized home life of a polyamorous Springfield family

By Hunter Styles

Glance at Michelle, Aimee, Micah and Ian on the street and you might assume they’re two straight couples — or two gay couples. But they’re all going home together.

Jerrey Roberts / Valley Advocate
That home is a large, sunny house in the Forest Park neighborhood of Springfield. It’s where this group of four polyamorous partners — a “quad’” — live, laugh, eat and sleep under one roof.

These four adults are intimately connected to each other, but they’re also open to new flings and encounters. And so they face an unusual challenge: running a communal household while tending to the myriad romantic relationships that hold the four of them — and their lovers — together.

“It’s structured chaos,” says Michelle. “But we’ve maintained it for years now because we come together and talk about how things are playing out.”

For years, the four of them slept together on a queen-size and a king-size bed pushed together. But it’s not the hedonistic free-for-all some might imagine.

Having kids, for example, changed everything....

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

...The poly groups in the Amherst area tend to skew young, Micah says, because of the university population. A poly group that met for a while in Hartford skewed older. A sizable Boston group called Poly Boston has members who range widely in age and experience.

In the Valley, a close-knit poly population means lots of dating within the group.

“I have no interest anymore in being someone else’s training wheels,” says Micah. “I don’t want to spend all of the time and effort it takes to meet someone, get involved with them, then find out that poly isn’t really for them. I don’t want to go through that anymore.”

But there are other advantages to dating within the group. You may not be well-acquainted with a potential partner, but “you probably know the people they’ve dated,” Micah said. “So you can ask them about them.”

It can be challenging to make such thorough commitments to others. But the tendency runs deep with this clan.

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

...Connor is now three, and he has a one-year-old sister named Katie (also conceived by Aimee and Micah). Childcare comes in part from Ian’s mother, who lives on the ground floor of the house. Throw in four cats, and the place feels awfully busy sometimes.

“It’s really hard to get alone time in this house,” says Micah. “Especially with children. Right now, none of the bedroom doors lock. We’re changing that. We need to be able to keep the kids out.”

Before most decisions can be made, he adds, everyone needs to be consulted. It can be time-consuming.

Establishing a home life took time, and it wasn’t without its bumpy patches. Ian moved in later than the other three — along with his former wife. The original idea was to create a cooperative home of at least five people.

“But it didn’t work out as envisioned,” Micah said, referring to Ian’s wife. “She was a willing participant. But it just wasn’t working, so she left the house.”

As with any relationship, there are fights and bruised feelings. But in a polyamorous relationship, jealousy requires an extra dose of introspection.

In a monogamous relationship, “there are certain things that you just get to be angry about,” Aimee suggests. “Whereas for us, when I feel jealous about something, I need to really look at what’s making me feel that.”

“It’s uneasy,” says Ian. “It’s so much easier just to blame the other person when you’re upset.”

When a duo within the quad quarrels or needs more time together, the group will band together to work out a schedule giving the couple less “kid duty” or budget some extra money for a date night.

“Most problems that you could identify as poly problems are just relationship problems, honestly,” says Micah.

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

...“Coming out as poly was a hell of a lot harder for me than coming out as bisexual,” Michelle says. “You need to educate people more about what it means. When you say you’re bisexual, at least people kind of get it.”

Michelle is open about being polyamorous. Not having to hide her relationships was an important consideration when selecting a job, she says. “My boss and my co-workers have been over to the house for parties. They’ve seen my life.”

Ian’s open, but fairly quiet about it. “I don’t wave a banner at work. But it comes up in conversation sometimes, and it’s no big deal. I have photos of everyone up at my desk.”...

But that’s work. They have a lot of fun, too. Often, Friday and Saturday night are for getting together with other partners outside of the quad, or with extended friend groups Still, the four of them spend a lot of time together. They go to museums and festivals. They take trips together to visit family — and they do have a lot of family. And they all try to sit down together for dinner at least a couple of times a week.

“Here are four adults — five, counting Ian’s mom — that are actively involved in the betterment and well-being of these small things,” says Michelle.

“It takes a village, right?” says Micah. “We’re a village.” •


The whole article (print issue of Nov. 20–26, 2014).

The same writer has two companion pieces in the same issue. Trans, Queer, Poly… and Married profiles a different person. I’m Poly — Now What? is about finding the local Meetup group.

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November 19, 2014

Poly publisher crowdfunds for three new books


Eve Rickert and Franklin Veaux set up Thorntree Press last year to publish their poly relationship manual More Than Two. With that successfully done (and 3,500 sold so far, counting physical and ebooks), they are now crowdfunding to publish three more poly books in 2015:

Game Changer, Franklin's own memoir,

Stories from the Polycule, Elisabeth Sheff's collection of polyfamily true stories (the deadline for submissions has been extended to January 15, and there's a bit of pay involved),

● An expanded second edition of The Husband Swap by Louisa Leontiades.

Franklin and Eve explain,


We want to publish great books -- without being assholes. That means we make our contracts as creator-friendly as possible. We don't take any rights we don't need to, and we only take those [we do] for a few years. Plus, by funding production costs up-front with crowdfunding, we're able to give much higher royalties than the bigger publishers -- as well as creating advance buzz for sales.


Donations get you lots of perks starting at the $15 level; that gets you all three books electronically when they come out. So you can consider it a bargain pre-purchase rather than a donation if you prefer. But I think this whole excellent enterprise is worth more to our community than $15 if you can afford it.

Here's their video pitch:



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November 16, 2014

"Briana, Joshua, & Tony's stories-and-songs love triangle wedding"


Carla Ten Eyck Photography

Offbeat Bride writes up another beautiful poly wedding — this one a legal couple-marriage followed by a triad handfasting. Comments Angi Becker Stevens, who wrote up her own wedding there last summer, "It continues to impress me that a wedding website is one of the most poly-friendly places on the interwebs."

Writes Briana,


We're a little different since we're a trio, not a couple, and I also have cerebral palsy, though that didn't affect the wedding itself. ...Not only is Tony the fantastic, beautiful, and talented third member of our triad (and Joshua's best man), he is also a gifted florist. He made my maid of honor's bouquet, as well as designing the flowers that adorned the tables....

Triple Kiss. (Photos by Carla Ten Eyck Photography.)

Tony made our cake topper, using as inspiration a story I had written Joshua one anniversary. In the story, I was a fox and Joshua was a cat. We refer often to Tony as "the sun" in our relationship, so he used the sun for a base on which the fox and cat would stand. He also sneakily arranged for a surprise grooms' cake that was Rocky Horror Picture Show-themed! Joshua and I first met at a stage production of Rocky Horror, and the triangle was formed years later when all three of us were performing in Rocky Horror together.

...Our recessional, for that matter, was an instrumental version of "Yellow Submarine." We wanted something both triumphant and fun, and that fit the bill. After our legal ceremony, which all our guests attended, Joshua, Tony, and I snuck off with a few close friends to have a second ceremony officiated by my maid of honor: a handfasting, binding all three of us to each other.


Read the whole piece, with lotsa pix (Nov. 14, 2014).

Here are all the poly weddings featured on Offbeat Bride that I've posted about (including this one; scroll down).

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November 15, 2014

Poly triad in Sweden is suddenly famous

The Local: Sweden's News in English
TV4 (Sweden)
Expressen

In some countries it's easier to be out than in America, I get the impression. Am I right? This just in from Sweden:


Sweden's blogging 'polyfamily' goes viral

By Maddy Savage

After married couple Linda and Erik Fridland fell in love with the same man, they decided he should move in with them — and their children. The Local caught up with Hampus Engström — their new partner — as the family's blog started to go viral.

Erik, Linda and Hampus
Hampus Engström, 29, says that falling in love with a married couple was the last thing he expected when he met fellow taxi driver Erik Fridland through work.

But after hanging out with the 35-year-old and his wife Linda, 34, he started to develop strong feelings for the couple.

"I used to go round for dinner with them and I found I liked them both and we had so much in common. We could just speak about everything, right from the beginning," he tells The Local.

After an "uncomfortable" couple of months, he says he finally had a conversation with Linda when it became clear that she and her husband Erik both had feelings for him too.

"I didn't think you could love more than one person at a time before this," says Engström.

They all decided to move in together in January 2013 with Hampus bringing his daughter — now five — to join the couple's nine-year-old twin boys and their thirteen-year-old son.

The new family later launched their own taxi business in Strömsund in Jämtland in northern Sweden along with a store selling children's clothes.

"We work together and we live together. I sleep in the same bed as Linda and Erik. Yes, we have a sexual relationship. We all have sex together".

He says that the family decided to start blogging about their experiences to "show that there are other ways to live than those 'normal' relationships".

"We have children, a house, a car and jobs. It is not all about sex, we do all the mundane things too," he adds.

Engström says the three adults were worried about the impact their decision could have on their children, but he insists that none of the kids have been bullied and says that some of their friends "think it is cool that they have two dads".

Polygamy - when a husband has more than one wife or vice versa - is illegal in Sweden, but there are no rules to stop groups of people living together.

Sweden's Centre Party previously lobbied for a change in legislation, while it was part of the previous centre-right coalition government, but dropped its support for polygamy following rifts within the party.

Engström says he is still hoping that the law will be adapted in future, to allow him to marry the Fridlands.

"It is currently tricky for us in certain situations. When you go to the bank they are usually looking for two signatures, there isn't space for three. Usually only two people get a mortgage so that was tricky for us but we managed to make it happen".

Engström says he knows of "several other polyfamilies" living together in Sweden and elsewhere in Europe thanks to a strong Facebook community and thinks that the phenomenon is becoming more common.

"I hope we will eventually be able to get married and that hotel staff won't find it so strange if three of us want to book a room and share a bed together."


The original (Nov. 12, 2014).

Here's their family blog, running for a year and a half now. And their new Facebook page.

Here they are in a large newspaper (Nov. 11).

And here they are on TV (also Nov. 11):



Whatever's going on here, I'd say they need some TV training; they act frozen for all but about five seconds. C'mon, you're on camera! Smile, gesture, interact! Or is this a Swedish thing, or were they reacting to some kind of awful tragedy? Swedish speakers, help us out here?

P.S.: Now they've gotten picked up by the news-cartoon video site of Apple Daily HK, Hong Kong's leading pro-democracy newspaper. Watch here: 戀上同一情人 夫婦大床3人齊齊瞓 (Nov. 16, 2014). Don't ask me what's going on.

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November 11, 2014

Dan Savage urges poly outness, when possible

Many alternative media

Dan Savage, possibly America's most important sex ethicist, devotes his advice column this week to three poly-related questions from readers. Parts of his responses to each:


Joe Newton
...As for his current girlfriend: It's possible that your presence made her uncomfortable, AHW. It's also possible that she's socially awkward and you misread her signals. Or perhaps she's never had to interact with a partner's ex before. She's still a teenager — the whole concept of exes remaining on good terms and being there for each other during a crisis may be new to her.

If you and your ex are close enough to spoon during a health crisis, AHW, you're close enough to ask him a direct question or two about his current relationship. Is it open or closed? If it's open, are we talking open in practice or open in theory? If it's the latter, you may be the first "non-primary" partner — or the first ex-primary partner — with whom this girl has ever had to interact. Meaning: She may have been more comfortable with You, the Idea, than she was with You, the Person....


I consider myself one of the lucky ones: happily married for decades, with a long-term girlfriend. GF is at this point part of the family, and while it hasn't always been an easy arrangement to sort out, it has worked for over a decade. Recently, I've been talking with other nonmonogamous folk and find myself wondering whether I have any responsibility to publicly admit details about my multi-partner lifestyle.... Am I crazy to feel guilt for not being openly poly?

Not everyone who's poly can be out, NUNYA, just as not everyone who's gay, bi, trans, kinky, or poz can be out. But the only way to dispel myths about poly people and poly relationships — poly people are all burners, poly relationships don't work out for the long term, all nonmonogamous relationships ultimately fail — is for poly people to come out when and where they can. So if you're in a position to be out, NUNYA, you should come out.

And while your poly relationship isn't anyone's business, it's not something you should have to hide, either.


...When a person says she wants something sexual to happen "naturally," NEFH, what she means is "spontaneously." Three-ways don't happen that way. An opposite-sex couple that wants to have a three-way is gonna have to make an effort, NEFH. You'll have to take out personal ads, go to swingers clubs, and approach trusted friends or exes and carefully broach the subject. (A gay couple that wants to have a three-way? They just have to leave the house. Pretty much.)


Read the whole column in Savage's home paper (week of Nov. 12, 2014).

On the subject of poly outness: I went to the Beyond The Love poly con in Columbus, Ohio, last weekend, and I was blown away by how well the organizing triad and staff put the whole thing together. This was only its second year and they got about 200 people both times. One of the presenters was Billy Holder of Atlanta Poly Weekend. He led a session on why you should be as out about being poly as you can.

Short version: It's often easier, less stressful, and safer for you. It benefits other polyfolks. And it benefits a free society. You can read the whole thing on his blog: Coming Out Poly.

My favorite quote:


My wife says it best: ”You don’t have to wave a banner to carry it.” By that she means there isn’t a need to shout from the roof tops, draw attention and make a scene, but rather by living our lives quietly and openly we can make a big impression.


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