Polyamory in the News!
. . . by Alan

January 30, 2015

"At Home With Polyamory": a profile of an Oregon quad with a teen

KOPB (Portland, OR)

Oregon Public Broadcasting puts up a 3-minute piece on its website talking with a two-couple quad and their geeky teen daughter about their poly life:

Does anyone know whether this appeared on radio or TV in addition to the website?

I have mixed opinions about representing poly to the media if you need your faces blurred out. These people pull it off, helped by all their laughter and by the happy little ukelele backgrounds the producers added. But viewers are used to blurred faces suggesting something shameful. Opinions?

This is part of KOPB's "At Home" series, "conversations inside homes across Oregon."

On a Monday night in late January, Liam and Tracie are cooking dinner for their daughter Emily. It’s her 16th birthday, and they’re having nachos and birthday cake.

As Liam and Tracie prepare dinner in the kitchen, Emily is on the couch in the living room talking with Melissa and Matthew.

Liam and Tracie are a married couple, and so are Matthew and Melissa. But they are also polyamorous. Liam and Melissa are paramours, which means they share an intimate relationship with each other. Matthew has a paramour outside the group, and Tracie currently is not in another relationship.

“Right now I’m invested in my own individual exploration,” she says. “I have a couple of projects that I want to work on now and am not really looking for another romantic attachment.”

Liam and Tracie decided to open up their marriage after Tracie had an affair with a friend.

“I made the mistake of not talking with Liam before I went ahead with it,” Tracie says. “But we decided to see what this could add to our marriage instead of taking away from it.”

Tracie and Liam met Melissa and Matthew through an online dating site a couple of years ago in Missouri. Liam and Melissa immediately hit it off, and got permission from their spouses to begin dating. After two years of the couples living separately in Missouri, they decided they were ready for their next adventure. They found an apartment in Rock Creek, a Portland suburb, and moved in together. They’ve been here for five months.

The couples asked that we not use their last names or show their faces because some of them have still not told family and friends about their choice to be polyamorous.

“A lot of people think polyamory means promiscuousness or being false with your partner, and some of that exists in our families,” Tracie says. “And right now we’re not willing to put our family or our happiness on the line just because someone has a closed mind.”

...“Trying to find time for Melissa is sometimes a struggle for Liam,” Tracie says about her husband. “And every once in a while, I’ll find that I’m jealous of the time that he’s spending with her.”

The solution? A strategy they call “over-communication,” which the foursome says is the most important rule of the house.

...Included in most of the family talks is Liam and Tracie’s daughter Emily, a self-professed “geek” who spent her birthday at Portland Comic Con. For some teenage girls, polyamorous parents might seem like too much to handle. But Liam and Tracie thought differently.

“Emily has always taken a really mature approach to it,” Tracie says. “We’ve tried to give her as much information as we felt she was ready for.”

“I was actually fine with it,” Emily says. “I expected them to understand and respect things I was going through, and I in turn would do the same for them.”...

Her's the whole article, at the original video site. (Jan. 30, 2015).


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January 29, 2015

After CNN Money piece, tech leader Chris Messina declares a big future for non-monogamy

CNN Money online

You'll remember that Chris Messina, instigator of the Twitter hashtag and a leader in things open-source and open-web, was featured on Sunday's CNN Money report on Silicon Valley thought leaders embracing polyamory. He took a bit of ridicule, and maybe as a result of that, he's out with a powerful apologia published on the CNN Money site this morning.

A correction on my part: I originally called him an "early adopter" of poly, but he says he was introduced to the concept in 2013.

Why I choose non-monogamy

Like most of my generation, I grew up spoon fed monogamist fairy tales that pushed "happily ever after" endings as though achieving one was preordained.

...But as a child of divorce and an aspiring designer-entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, I was suspicious of marriage. Out here, we're data-positive and solution-oriented and if your product (i.e. marriage) is failing for 50% of your customers, then you need to fix it or offer something better. So when I discovered polyamory and non-monogamy as I headed to Burning Man in 2013, I realized I'd stumbled onto another way.

Let's get our terms straight. Polyamory means "many loves." It often applies to one or more people who are romantically involved with (wait for it) one or more partners. Non-monogamy, meanwhile, applies to everything that isn't monogamy -- including polyamory -- but you can be non-monogamous and not polyamorous. Here, I'll draw you a Venn diagram.

Personally, I'm in a monogamish relationship. We're committed to each other, but have a porous boundary around our relationship, meaning we've agreed that it's OK for either of us to express romantic feelings toward other people or to be physically intimate with other people, so long as we're honest and transparent about our intentions with one another.

These things don't diminish the integrity of our relationship. Rather, they deepen our understanding of each other's wants and desires, and give us the space to grow independently, without growing apart.

So why non-monogamy now?

Well, people haven't changed much, but their environment has....

He goes on to discuss how we no longer live in the circumstances of the ancient societies that invented monogamy. He also discusses the arrival of Big Dating, which "unbundles monogamy and sex. It offers to maximize episodes of intimacy while minimizing the risk of rejection or FOMO."

Today's most interesting apps (Snapchat, Secret, et al.) are designed to support Big Dating, offering discreet, asynchronous, anonymish, non-exclusive communications. Multiplied against algorithms that optimize the pool of potential partners for connection,... romantic partners are now more fungible than ever. Scary! Exciting!

As such, Big Dating precipitates the rising ambivalence toward commitment, as most millennials put off marriage indefinitely. In place of monogamous pairings, hookup culture flourishes and "open relationships" are commonplace. These are merely rational economic responses to excess inventory and changing expectations of romance....

...Similar to computers in 1990, non-monogamy is niche, with its cultural center in the Bay Area. Its potential is clear to many of us out here, especially in light of the challenges and opportunities raised by Big Dating.

Sure, it could be a decade or more before its relevance is obvious to the population at large, but had Steve Jobs told people that they'd be carrying around super computers in their pockets by 2015, they'd think he was nuts. Non-monogamy demands a similar kind of radical rethinking -- in how we approach our romantic relationships.

Read the whole article (Jan. 29, 2015).

Here he is talking about the hashtag idea that made Twitter take hold.


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January 27, 2015

San Francisco Magazine: "Poly Love" and a look at the local scene

The February issue of the glossy, upscale San Francisco Magazine presents a nearly 4000-word feature on people in the local poly scene. The story is also online:

Poly Love

The high highs, low lows, and endless trade-offs of the group relationship.

Clockwise from left: William Winters, Julie Barr, Joe Barr, Anna Hirsch, Shannyn DeBlaauw, Nini Banks, James Starke. (Photo by Brett Walker)

By Julia Scott

“So are you guys in an equilateral triangle, or are you more of a V?”

A dark-haired woman leans over to an eager-looking young coupled seated next to her and holds up her thumb and forefinger. Each of the V signifies a person; the fleshy connective tissue between them stands for the partner to whom they're both sexually connected. Her hand gesture is intended as an icebreaker, but the couple pause awkwardly, as if they don't know exactly how to answer.

In polyamorous relationships, knowing where you stand is crucial, but often hard to figure out. Whether you have 2 partners or 10, managing multiple liaisons can feel like walking a tightrope — which is perhaps why the perplexed couple have come to this unmarked warehouse on Mission Street that houses the Center for Sex and Culture. Tonight’s Open Relationship Discussion Group is exploring “Threesomes and Moresomes.” The attendees — a total of 22 men and women, a commendable turnout for a Monday night in November — sit in a neat circle, jittering with the same blend of excitement and anxiety that you might find in a roomful of people training for their first parachute jump....

When Marcia Baczynski, a relationship coach and tonight’s discussion leader, asks how many people are new to the group, nearly half raise their hands. Some of them are new to poly altogether, including one smartly dressed woman who met the love of her life — a married man — on OkCupid six months ago. With his wife’s consent, she and the man started a passionate affair. Little by little, the two women grew to care for each other as well, to the point that the three of them now sleep in the same bed.

“If I hadn’t fallen in love with him,” the woman says, “I wouldn’t have been able to develop feelings for her. They’ve been together 17 years, and sometimes I see them as the same person.” She gestures toward the man on her left, who smiles and takes her hand. Then her face falls: The wife, who is not present tonight, is pregnant. “There’s this other large need that I have,” the woman confesses, “to get married and have kids. There’s a huge guilt in me for wanting to date other men. I’m afraid I’ll hurt him if I do.” She starts to cry. The room is silent until the man speaks up: “I’ve told her that the last time I loved someone this much, I married her. I don’t know what to do with this.”

Someone asks whether the two of them have talked about having a child together. They have, and they may. “But that’s the hard part for me,” the woman says. “It’s so not what my parents wanted for me. It’s not the social norm.” Everyone nods.


“Jealousy, time management, and lack of clarity around what you’re doing.” Baczynski ticks off the three most common pitfalls that beset practitioners of poly. We’re seated close together on a lipstick-red velvet chaise at Wicked Grounds, a kink-friendly café on Eighth Street where you can purchasee hand-carved rosewood butt paddles with your peppermint tea. Curly-headed and bright-eyed, Baczynski exudes friendliness that inspires a tangible intimacy. A decade ago, she gained fame in the alt-sex community as the coinventor of cuddle parties, which began in 2004 with clothed strangers caressing each other in her Manhattan apartment and have spread to thousands of living rooms across the United States and Canada. Now she's one of the Bay Area's most sought-after relationship coaches in the poly sphere, thanks in part to the prominence of her online curriculum, Successful Nonmonogamy, which helps couples open up their relationships without imploding them.


...The concepts behind these words are constantly being hashed out in homes throughout the Bay Area, long known as polyamory’s petri dish. New additions to the vocabulary often bubble up here before filtering out to polyamorists in the rest of the country. “Compersion,” for example, defined as taking pleasure in your partner’s pleasure with another person (the opposite of jealousy), emerged in the Kerista Commune, a Haight-Ashbury “polyfidelitous” social experiment that used a rotating schedule to assign bed partners.

Dossie Easton, a Bay Area therapist who wrote the landmark poly bible, The Ethical Slut, in 1997, gets emotional when she talks about how far the poly world has come since her arrival here as a sexual revolutionary in 1967. “I see people who start out where I fought for years and years to get to. They think that they should be able to come out to their families, that their parents should accept them and welcome all their various partners and their various partners’ children for Thanksgiving.”

This isn’t the polyamory of your imagination, filled with ’70s swinger parties and spouse swapping in the hot tub. In fact, the reality of polyamory is much more muted, cerebral, and, well, unsexy. Generally speaking, self-identified poly types aren’t looking for free love; they’re in search of the expensive kind, paid for with generous allotments of time and emotional energy invested in their various partners — and their partners’ children and families. All of that entails a lot of heavy lifting, and a lot of time-consuming sharing....

If it all sounds inordinately complicated, that’s because it is. What do you do when your partner vetoes a potential lover? How do you handle it when your spouse starts dating your ex? To cope with jealousy and the thorny subject of sexual boundaries, the poly community relies on an excess of communication — hence, discussion groups like tonight’s. The community calendar offers nonstop opportunities for support, conversation, and debate, including potlucks, workshops, coffeehouse socials, political discussions, and book readings. As one woman tells me, people here like to geek out on relationship philosophy as much as they like to geek out on software (and, in fact, the polyamory world has considerable overlap with the tech community)....

Then we get several profiles of people and intimate groups, with their complex joys and concerns. Among them are William Winters and Anna Hirsch. You may remember her as the author of the webcomic The New PolyAnna.

Strip #1 of The New PolyAnna, by Anna Hirsh
Anna Hirsch thought that William Winters was going to be her first one-night stand. She ended up marrying him. When they met in Baton Rouge, their relationship styles — his casual connections, her commitment to monogamy — seemed as mismatched as their temperaments. Then they discovered poly, which squared their deep, if idiosyncratic, love with their desire to avoid the mistakes of relationships past. They agreed to experiment, and when Hirsch left town for several weeks, Winters slept with someone else. He didn’t tell Hirsch until she got back.

“She cried for two consecutive weeks,” recalls Winters. “It was totally fucking horrible. I remember saying, ‘Anna, if it is this hard, we do not have to do this.’ It was she who said, ‘No. There is something in this for me. I’m choosing this. But we cannot do it your way.’”

Eight years later, Hirsch, a writer and editor, and Winters, a progressive activist and organizer, are one of the most socially conspicuous poly couples in the Bay Area. In honor of the poly potlucks that they organized for a time, the Chronicle went so far as to dub Winters the “de facto king of the East Bay poly scene” — if you ask, he’ll show you a playing card, designed by his friends as a joke, that depicts him as the king of hearts.

Hirsch and Winters live in the Oakland Hills, in a studio apartment attached to a house occupied by several other poly couples. These days, Winters hosts private play parties and enjoys mingling with women. Hirsch is in a four-year relationship with a married couple (she’s more serious with the husband than with the wife) and has a boyfriend as well. Doing things Hirsch’s way means that Winters has the freedom he needs to play, while she puts down roots with the people she loves. Although she’s legally married to Winters, she likes to “propose” to her partners as a way of acknowledging their importance to her. When she mock-married a platonic friend back in Baton Rouge, Winters was her date to the wedding. “I have this whimsical image of myself old on a porch somewhere, someday,” Hirsch says. “And I would like William to be on that porch. And I think it would be amazing if there were other people on that porch, too.” This process—fitting together relationships without elevating them or putting them in special categories — is described by the couple as “integrating.”...

Read the whole article (online Jan. 26, 2015).

There's also an 18-minute audio interview with the author, Julia Scott, about what she thinks of the subject. She was impressed at the relationship skills of these people, but thought she saw through claims to have have mastered jealousy, and she says she wouldn't have the stamina for such a life herself:

Part of the audio interview (7:39) went up on the website of KALW, a National Public Radio station in San Francisco.



January 25, 2015

CNN Money: Silicon Valley creatives are going poly, life-hacking love

The CNN Money site just put up a 6-minute webvideo report about poly becoming a big thing among Silicon Valley techies and entrepreneurs, the people who shape innovations in our culture:

Four partners, one love: It’s polyamory

Imagine being in a serious relationship with your husband, a boyfriend, a girlfriend and dating around on the side — that's polyamory. It's not new, but it’s infiltrating tech culture:

Here's the video's original location on the CNN Money site, where it's part of a series on innovative approaches to sex (as in poly) and drugs (LSD and smart drugs) among Silicon Valley creatives.

For instance I didn't know that Chris Messina, best known for inventing the Twitter hashtag, was a polyamory advocate. He says, regarding traditional marriage,

We're a very data-driven culture, so if you're trying to build a product — to draw an analogy — and it's failing 50% of the time, you might want to consider the design and think about ways of improving it.

Says Miju Han, a female engineer for a large tech company,

Han: People in Silicon Valley are always looking for ways to change norms that might be better for people... It's just more okay to be out about it in tech.

Interviewer: We've seen Silicon Valley hack transportation, and companies like Uber come out of that. Can you hack love, and the way traditional relationships work?

Han: In many ways we are hacking love. Polyamory is a form of optimization, in the sense that you make tradeoffs and take risks. In technology people have higher appetites for risk. Opening up your relationship is really risky, kind of in the way that starting a company is really risky.

The report also features Helen Fisher, one of the pioneer romantic-love researchers, scoffing at the whole poly concept because Theory of Human Nature. I posted the very first comment on the YouTube version, calling her out for putting theory over observation. Go join in.

The YouTube version of the video seems off to a slow start — I was viewer #24 when I posted my comment — but I see that local CNN stations are now adding the CNN version to their own websites.

Just up now: text article with the video (Jan. 25, 2015).

Jan. 26: The story and quotes from it are reported on the "Silicon Beat" blog of the San Jose Mercury News.

Jan. 27: The video has been picked up by MSN.com.

Jay Barmann, a writer for The SFist, takes a jaundiced view: CNN Explores The Druggy, Trippy, And Poly Side Of Silicon Valley Geekdom: "The Bay Area gets to let its freak flag fly really high for a national audience once again in this series, but this time with a twist: CNN's Laurie Segall isn't just talking to the usual suspects of San Francisco bohemia here...."


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Poly in a dozen college newspapers

Get Real
(Cambridge University, U.K.)
The Evergreen Daily (Evergreen State College, WA)
Klipsun (Western Washington University)
Bull (University of Sydney)
The Kaimin (University of Montana)
The Vanguard (Portland State University)
The Concordian (Concordia University, Montreal)
The Manitoban (University of Manitoba)
KaLeo (University of Hawai‘i at Manoa)
Daily Emerald (University of Oregon)
The Horn (University of Texas/ Austin)
TEDx (University of Texas/ Arlington)
Puget Sound Trail (University of Puget Sound)

When Diana Adams issued her famous challenge at a Loving More conference six and a half years ago — "That every college student in America will know the word 'polyamory' and what it means within five years" — few students did, and I saw no clear path to that goal. But by the five-year mark it was well on its way to happening, and more so since. To watch Buzzfeed or read reddit/r/polyamory (25,000 members), for instance, you'd think poly was all about millennials.

Here's my latest roundup of college-newspaper treatments of poly, no doubt incomplete. The quick takeaway: they're basically getting it right.

● At Cambridge University in England, in the student LGBTQ magazine Get Real:

5 Reasons Everyone Should Try Polyamory

Robert Ashworth
By Katt Parkins

...There are many ways in which this philosophy is beneficial and here are just five of them.


Writings on polyamory usually describe the following scenario: If you’ve got a friend you really like to play basketball with, and a friend who absolutely loves quirky German cinema, why force one of them to do both?...


Most people are forced into this stifling web of repression because of how they are told marriages or relationships “should work”.... In the poly world, a new kind of fidelity emerges – the idea that emotional commitment and faithfulness transcends exclusivity.


In most stories, films, TV drama (and so on) eventually a character has to choose. And only one of these can be “real love”. What if they’re both real love? ...If everyone communicates, and works through this together, this kind of life is indeed possible.


...All logical arguments aside, [compersion is] an intensely beautiful feeling.... And isn’t the idea of owning someone a projection of materialist ideals anyway?


Just like we accept that gender is an often-fluid and equivocal concept, and sexuality is not in polarised form, we should accept that relationships could be just as varied and complex.

...Only recently have transgender people began to gain the terminology, pronouns and general language needed to express themselves. Polyamory is at a similar stage, dancing playfully on the peripheries, questioning assumptions, and finding joy and authenticity along the paths that many dare not wander.

Read it all (Dec. 19, 2014).

● At Evergreen State College in Washington state, The Evergreen Daily got hold of Polyamory Leadership Network members Michael Rios and Bhramari Devi Dasi:

Poly want a partner

By Abby Student | Evergreen sex and relationship columnist

...Polyamory directly translates to ‘many loves,’ and is defined as a romantic relationship between more than two consenting adults in which all parties are knowledgeable of one another. Also known as ethical non-monogamy, these relationships vary from person to person and do not always contain a sexual component.

...Michael Rios, poly-educator and webmaster of polyinfo.org, said he has been polyamorous his whole life. Rios founded a polyamorous commune while still in high school in the mid-1960s. He currently has two nesting partners. They live together in side-by-side group housing units. Rios also has two long-distance lovers who he sees every so often. He maintains regular contact with his co-parent of three children even though they haven’t been sexual for many years.

“We got an official divorce in the late ‘90s, but we talk on the phone every day,” Rios said.

...Monogamous people often translate polyamorous to total disregard for monogamous commitments, which is not the case for most poly individuals.

“I will not date someone who is dating someone who is cheating,” Devi Dasi said. “If their relationship world isn’t honest and open, I won’t go near it.”

She acknowledges that, as with all groups of people, there are obviously exceptions; not all moral compasses point quite as due north as hers.

Devi Dasi implements this principle not only for ethical reasons, but to ensure the health of everyone involved.

“When it comes to sexual health issues, it’s not only about the person who I’m being sexually intimate with. It’s about the people that they’re sexually intimate with and so on,” she said. “When someone is cheating, you can’t have that conversation.”

Devi Dasi said it’s a [poly] cultural norm to have these conversations. Sexually active poly people should be open to having what she calls a ‘sexual health and practice’ conversation....

Read on (Dec. 5, 2014).

● In Klipsun, a student magazine at Western Washington University:

Redefining Relationships

Photo illustration by Evan Abell
By Demi Cavanaugh

...As foreign and confusing as it may seem to some, for people like Gray Newlin, it just makes sense.

“Love isn’t finite,” Newlin says. “You can’t really stop yourself from loving other people while you’re in a relationship.”

Newlin’s hair is messily piled atop her head, with only her short choppy bangs, which frame her wide navy blue eyes and flushed cheeks, escaping the elastic band that secures the rest of her mane.

Newlin has been in open relationships since she was 14 years old, even before she knew what polyamory meant.

...Those who understand it will say polyamory is as much about setting limits as it is about removing them.

Robin Trask, executive director of Loving More, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness and providing support for polyamorous relationships, says these relationships are defined as being, “ethical, non-monogamous relationships done with consent.”

...“Polyamorous couples in a healthy relationship would talk about which behaviors they are and are not comfortable with and determine what their relationships are going to look like,” says [Chalaina] Connors, a poly-friendly licensed professional counselor in Portland.

...Polyamory can go wrong in a number of ways; one is when people identify themselves as polyamorous, but only as an excuse to sleep around with multiple partners, which does not represent the values of open and honest communication that polyamory emphasizes, Newlin says....

...With a practically endless number of relationship combinations and no real societal guideline in place dictating how they should function, polyamorous individuals are forging their own paths and determining their own set of relationship standards that work for them.

“There are limits,” Trask says. “But you decide what they are.”

The whole article (Oct. 25, 2014).

● In the magazine Bull at the University of Sydney, Australia:

I love you, but I think we should love other people

By Natasha Gillezeau

...I have been in a monogamous relationship with my boyfriend – who I love – since November 2013. But I have never felt less free.

...Brigitte, 23, has been in a polyamorous relationship with her boyfriend Chris for four and a half years. They constantly negotiate the openness of their relationship, and have periods of hooking up with whomever, and periods resembling monogamy. “You guys live together. How does it work?” I asked.... “How would you two deal with the other person having sex?”

“We’ll talk about what happened. Then I feel less anxious. The fear of the unknown is the worst, but when I find out it’s like ‘that’s exactly what I thought, it’s better having heard it from you’.”

...No longer Christian, Philluhp identifies as queer, polyamorous and asexual....

...After breaking up with her last monogamous boyfriend in 2011, Clo, 20, knew she was looking for something like polyamory, but didn’t know the term. “I was using all different words for it, like ‘casual relationship’, which is kind of bullshit. Just because a relationship is non-monogamous doesn’t mean that it’s casual.” Clo began seeing a guy who told her he identified as polyamorous, and after her initial trepidation, felt a sense of relief.... She tells me polyamory allows relationships to form organically, and according to their own rules.... “It’s just such an unusual thing. But it couldn’t happen within the bounds of monogamy, because there is so much expectation on what sexual relationships mean, and how they happen. All of these different growths would be completely stifled.”...

The whole article, worth the full read (PDF file; go to page 13) (July 2014).

● In the Montana Kaimin at the University of Montana in Missoula:

Missoula models don’t always let people eat sushi off their naked bodies, but when they do, it’s at Polytana Sushi Social.

The event celebrates relationship diversity, clinical sexologist Lindsey Doe said. This includes monogamy and all things non-monogamous.

Polyamory is the practice of having more than one intimate relationship at a time, but with all parties aware and consenting.

The Polytana Sushi Socials helps spread awareness and understanding to the community, she said.

University of Montana student Ellen Kuehl is modeling at the event this year. She modeled for more than 200 people at the last Polytana Sushi Social, she said.
Her body was painted, positioned and artfully decorated with sushi....

The whole article (Oct. 16, 2014).

● At Portland State University:

The Atomic Spectra of Love

Illustration by Rachael Bentz
By Brandon Staley

Years ago, Tamela Clover watched an educational video about prairie voles. The video divided the voles into two groups: monogamous and non-monogamous. The narrator went on to explain how, by altering the chemistry of the brain, the non-monogamous voles could be made to act monogamous.

Clover, the creator of the Portland State Polyamory Club, looks back on that video in horror....

Clover, a senior studying psychology, said she decided to form a support group focusing on polyamory after transferring to the university and attending Viking Days, an event aimed at acquainting incoming students with the school.

She met with representatives from the Women’s Resource Center, Queer Resource Center, and Student Activities and Leadership Programs but couldn’t find a student group that dealt specifically with polyamory.

...Several months later, the PSU Polyamory Club acts as a safe place for members to discuss anything from work frustrations and communication problems in relationships, to more delicate topics like the pros and cons of coming out in various areas of life.

...“It’s not uncommon for monogamous people to be in relationships with polyamorous people,” Clover said. “In that case, it could be a really good resource for a monogamous person, because they come and get support that they might not be getting elsewhere.”

Mapping Love

When Aubrey Limburg got word that her application to join the Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program—a research program that prepares first generation, low income undergraduates for graduate and Ph.D. programs—had been approved, she knew she had to find the perfect topic....

Limburg had been reading the book Wannabes, Goths, and Christians: The Boundaries of Sex, Style, and Status by Amy Wilkins. The book discusses goth women harnessing sexual independence through their identification with polyamory, which caught Limburg’s eye.

“I said, ‘What the hell is polyamory?’”

...While seeking out participants for her study, Limburg expressed frustration at the lack of men willing to talk. Benjamin Baker, a senior studying economics at Reed College, said because of the sometimes tenuous and complex position of men in the polyamory community, speaking honestly about one’s orientation can be difficult.

“There are a somewhat equal number of men, but we don’t really know how to define and express what we are doing and why,” Baker said. “We don’t want to be seen as studs, and we are always trying to find our place in a more feminist and egalitarian social structure.”...

The whole article (July 15, 2014).

● In The Concordian (Montreal):

Love and sex can be more than just a game for two

By Jocelyn

...Hopefully this helps clear up some of the public misconceptions about those of us who subscribe to the “more the merrier” mantra.

Serial monogamy is fine as a choice, with relatively short commitments to partners and the liberty to come and go as one pleases.... Polyamory though, tends to be shrouded in hearsay and misinformation, often generalized as being “a sex thing,” or just about getting it on with more folks than one can count. But the reality of the situation is quite different. Polyamory isn’t just about the sex — although that certainly is a part of it — but about multiple committed relationships between consenting individuals. No secrets, no jealousy....

Read on (Oct. 7, 2014).

● At the University of Manitoba, a two parter:

Open to Openness

By Jodie Layne

Dear Jodie,

My husband and I just agreed to an open relationship and I’m such a newbie....

Dear reader,

There are so many things to consider when making a change in relationship structure, especially when you’re moving from the most normative to a stigmatized and often misunderstood relationship structure that doesn’t offer many visible, healthy models or examples in popular culture.

It’s important to go slow and ensure that you’re mindfully setting parameters... You don’t have to do anything that doesn’t sit right with you.... A great guide and a resource that helps you explore all kinds of non-monogamous relationship structures is Opening Up by Tristan Taormino....

Can you have sex with people that you both know? Should they only be strangers? Are you going to talk to each other about your encounters or are you going to remain more or less in the dark? What do you need personally to feel loved and desired? What health concerns do you have?...

Getting out as many guidelines and ideas as possible before you start actually sleeping with other people — as well as committing to honest and open discussion about things you haven’t thought about as they come up — will help....

As for finding people,

Open to Openness, Part Two

...Remember: it’s still possible to cheat in an open relationship, so check in with your boo to make sure that you’re not violating any guidelines and/or trust. All that aside, here are some places you might want to start.

Poly Winnipeg: While it’s not necessarily advertised as a place to find people to hook up with, it’s probably a good idea to meet some members of the poly community in Winnipeg anyways! They can help you figure this new thing out while also “outing” you as poly.

Bathhouses: If you’re just looking for sex... Aquarius bathhouse is now co-ed!...

Online: ...there are plenty of ways for you to explore possibilities no matter what you’re looking for. This is how a majority of people seem to be finding partners right now.

In real damn life: ...Telling a few trusted and nonjudgmental friends can help get the word out in a discreet way and can sort of be like a bat signal, attracting interested potential partners....

Part 1, Part 2 (March 10 and June 9, 2014).

● At the University of Hawai‘i/ Manoa:

...Americans are still strongly opposed to the idea of romance between more than two people. Here are a few guidelines on experimenting with ethical non-monogamy, or polyamory.


...While sex is generally a natural part of romance, polyamory is more than just hooking up with various people.

...Love isn't scarce like natural resources and doesn't diminish as people are added to a relationship. Each relationship is unique and can have many or few rules, depending on the people involved.... Regular testing for sexually transmitted diseases after new partners enter the relationship is important and free in the state of Hawai‘i.

...While there is nothing wrong with traditional monogamy, it's historically been presented as the only option in life. In reality, there exists a diverse spectrum of relationship possibilities to explore.


The most important aspect of polyamorous relationships is honesty between partners. Jealousy can be a destructive force in all relationships, romantic or otherwise, stemming from fear of the unknown – fear that a lover may leave, or that one is insufficient.

Open and frank discussion about topics like goals, desires and sexual boundaries can solve serious problems before they start by reassuring participants that their needs are being met and that everyone is comfortable.

Polyamory doesn't permit the ability to “cheat” on a partner at any time, as cheating implies deceit or dishonesty. If anyone involved isn't fully informed of and consenting to the existence of the other participants, then it's not truly a polyamorous relationship.

...This is a unique time in human history where love is consensual, marriage is not arranged, and basic human rights are written into law – where real people can continue to explore the uncharted boundaries of love.

The whole article (Oct. 1, 2014).

● In the Oregon Daily Emerald:

Just because you don’t want an open relationship doesn’t make it wrong

Taylor Wilder / Emerald
By Dahlia Bazzaz

...While the past decade has seen some major improvement in terms of accepting alternative sexual identities, some practices, including non-monogamy, remain (relatively) taboo.

...Robin Ewing, a senior dance major, says that his decision between whether or not to initiate an open relationship with his partner is largely based on his levels of spiritual, emotional and sexual fulfillment. While in a long-distance relationship during his freshman year, Ewing proposed an open relationship with his girlfriend at the time.

But Ewing acknowledges that even open relationships have boundaries — especially when jealousy gets in the way. It’s an arrangement that can be rewarding with excellent communication and clear expectations, but it does not come without hard work.

“You have to be really comfortable with yourself. You can’t own the other person,” Ewing said.

...The scenarios are endless, but the key to understanding non-monogamy is consent....

The whole article (May 4, 2014).

● At the University of Texas/ Austin, a writer for The Horn reviews More Than Two at some length:

By Dana Sayre

More Than Two is a new, comprehensive guide to polyamory by Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert. For years, Veaux has blogged about polyamory on http://www.morethantwo.com/, and the book is an outgrowth of that work.

...After answering the question, “What is polyamory?” (forming multiple, committed, romantic and/or sexual relationships at the same time with the full consent of those involved) the book moves on to discussing communication tools, boundary-setting, and how to create empowered relationships and agreements (not rules) with multiple partners.

...In addition to relationship advice and definitions of terms, each chapter contains stories based on the personal experiences of the authors or other real-life poly individuals. I was impressed by the honesty, vulnerability, and bravery necessary to speak openly about past relationship mishaps and the short-sighted actions which led to the end of past relationships.

...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.

...What people most worry about when considering polyamory is how to combat feelings of jealousy. But as Veaux and Rickert explain, jealousy most often stems from insecurity, low self-esteem, and lack of trust. It is only by learning to value our own self-worth and to trust in the love and care our partners have for us that we can combat the fear and insecurity which feed jealousy.

To do that work takes courage and a willingness to be vulnerable. But it's worth it – again, whether or not you choose to be monogamous or polyamorous.

...Perhaps my only complaint about the book is its length, but I have mixed feelings about seeing that as a negative.... I worry it would be too intimidating to someone just starting to think about exploring polyamory.

...It's hard to un-learn all the cultural scripting of monogamy, especially since it's so deep-seated and taken for granted in our culture. It's important to remember the polyamory is a process, not a destination. It's something that we do, that we work towards, that we build together with those we love.

...The book was also somewhat heteronormative, which I suppose makes some sense. People in the LGBTQ community have been building non-traditional relationships for years without necessarily calling themselves polyamorous. Now, however, I do know many queer people who embrace the term.

The book touches on the fear some men have in letting their female partners have other boyfriends, but overall, there wasn't the focus on alternative sexuality I would have liked to have seen from such a comprehensive guide. I feel there could have been a section dedicated to queerness, and another to BDSM, instead of just slight references to each sprinkled throughout....

Read the whole review (Sept. 17, 2014).

● Also from Texas, a student's TEDx talk at UT Arlington is currently going around: Polyamory and emotional literacy, and the benefits they can bring to the wider society, by Kel Walters (5:36):

● In The Puget Sound Trail at the University of Puget Sound:

Polygamy and polyamory examined

By Gregory Gropage

...What may be the most central tenant [sic] of polyamory, however, is the belief that love is not finite. Monogamous culture often suggests that a person has only so much romantic love to give, and by giving it to more than one person, it diminishes the amount you can give to another. Polyamorous culture argues, however, that giving love to one person can actually increase the amount you can give to another.

The whole article (Dec. 16, 2014).



January 22, 2015

"To Fall In Love With Anyone, Do This"

New York Times

I post this because, even though it's not about polyamory as such, it fits right into our community's ideas about the wide applicability of romantic love, its multi-possibilities, and our ability to shape and direct it.

Someone could make a powerful workshop exercise out of this.

Eye-gazing.  (Brian Rea / NY Times)
To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This

By Mandy Len Catron

More than 20 years ago, the psychologist Arthur Aron succeeded in making two strangers fall in love in his laboratory. Last summer, I applied his technique in my own life, which is how I found myself standing on a bridge at midnight, staring into a man’s eyes for exactly four minutes.

...I explained the study to my university acquaintance. A heterosexual man and woman enter the lab through separate doors. They sit face to face and answer a series of increasingly personal questions. Then they stare silently into each other’s eyes for four minutes. The most tantalizing detail: Six months later, two participants were married. They invited the entire lab to the ceremony.

“Let’s try it,” he said....

I Googled Dr. Aron’s questions; there are 36. We spent the next two hours passing my iPhone across the table, alternately posing each question.

They began innocuously: “Would you like to be famous? In what way?” And “When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?”

But they quickly became probing.

In response to the prompt, “Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common,” he looked at me and said, “I think we’re both interested in each other.”

I grinned and gulped my beer as he listed two more commonalities I then promptly forgot. We exchanged stories about the last time we each cried, and confessed the one thing we’d like to ask a fortuneteller. We explained our relationships with our mothers.

The questions reminded me of the infamous boiling frog experiment in which the frog doesn’t feel the water getting hotter until it’s too late. With us, because the level of vulnerability increased gradually, I didn’t notice we had entered intimate territory until we were already there, a process that can typically take weeks or months.

...We all have a narrative of ourselves that we offer up to strangers and acquaintances, but Dr. Aron’s questions make it impossible to rely on that narrative. Ours was the kind of accelerated intimacy I remembered from summer camp, staying up all night with a new friend, exchanging the details of our short lives.... But rarely does adult life present us with such circumstances.

The moments I found most uncomfortable were not when I had to make confessions about myself, but had to venture opinions about my partner. For example: “Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner, a total of five items” (Question 22), and “Tell your partner what you like about them; be very honest this time saying things you might not say to someone you’ve just met” (Question 28).

...Much of Dr. Aron’s research focuses on creating interpersonal closeness. In particular, several studies investigate the ways we incorporate others into our sense of self. It’s easy to see how the questions encourage what they call “self-expansion.” Saying things like, “I like your voice, your taste in beer, the way all your friends seem to admire you,” makes certain positive qualities belonging to one person explicitly valuable to the other.

It’s astounding, really, to hear what someone admires in you. I don’t know why we don’t go around thoughtfully complimenting one another all the time.

...I’ve skied steep slopes and hung from a rock face by a short length of rope, but staring into someone’s eyes for four silent minutes was one of the more thrilling and terrifying experiences of my life. I spent the first couple of minutes just trying to breathe properly. There was a lot of nervous smiling until, eventually, we settled in.

I felt brave, and in a state of wonder....

...I’ve begun to think love is a more pliable thing than we make it out to be. Arthur Aron’s study taught me that it’s possible — simple, even — to generate trust and intimacy, the feelings love needs to thrive. Love didn’t happen to us. We’re in love because we each made the choice to be.

Read the whole article (Jan. 9, 2015). Thanks to Terry of Vermont Poly Woodchucks for the tip.

Here is Arthur Aron's study: The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness: A Procedure and Some Preliminary Findings (15-page PDF). The procedure and the list of questions are near the end.

I've been a believer in eye-gazing ever since Sarah Taub of Network for a New Culture introduced me to it. Ditto with sharing appreciations as a deliberate exercise.


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