Polyamory in the News!
. . . by Alan

April 1, 2015

For newbie couples, "Polyamory 101: What the Curious Need to Know"

The Stir

A Poly 101 intro for curious couples, hitting nearly all the right notes in my opinion, just appeared in a conventional online women's magazine. The Stir is full of fashion and celebrities and describes itself this way: "We like to imagine we’re sitting in a coffee shop with a bunch of our friends. Yes, we talk about our kids — but we also talk about life.... everything from personal stories to parenting advice to decorating tips.... We will make sure you are in-the-know at the next after school activity or cocktail party!"

How do the insider views of a weird subculture get carried into a venue like this intact? By the writer stumbling onto good people to ask. Good things can happen when you make yourself known.

Incidentally, I see that both of the women the writer talked to are writing new poly guidebooks that I hadn't heard about.

Noteworthy: the story doesn't define polyamory — it assumes that the readers already know about it.

Polyamory 101: What the Curious Need to Know

bikeriderlondon / Shutterstock
Another feet-from-the-sheets stock pic.
Photographers, can you shoot some sweeter poly-
themed pix for stock agencies?
There's a demand for them.

By Adriana Velez

"I am zero percent interested in my new relationship becoming strictly monogamous," my friend revealed to me recently. A decade after her divorce, a decade of healing, dating, disappointments, and soul-searching has brought her to a place where she feels open and excited about exploring polyamory....

I asked my friend, a mother of three teens, what had changed for her. She said she'd done a lot of internal work and had finally arrived at a place where she felt like she could take care of herself and make herself happy. She feels settled in herself, physically, emotionally, and spiritually....

She's also felt a shift in how she wants to relate with other people. "I just feel like I really love having intensely close relationships with people, and that's what I do in my work, and that's how I behave in my life, and I'm just now having the courage to say that's what I want."

I think it's crucial that my friend is in this very grounded state of mind. She has just begun a relationship with a like-minded man and is looking forward to their adventures. This got us wondering about long-married couples who are also interested in exploring polyamory. How do you get started, and how do you make it a positive element in your relationship?

We asked some experts for their advice. Here are their tips.

1. Make sure your relationship is in good health before you try anything.

...Dedeker Winston, a relationship coach, author of the forthcoming book The Thinking Woman's Guide to Polyamory and member of a polyamorous community, also says that this is an important first step. "Take inventory of your relationship. How well do the two of you communicate? Do you trust each other? Do both of you have a similar vision of what the ideal romantic or sexual life would look like? What excites you about the prospect of opening up your marriage and what terrifies you? What are your insecurities?"

2. Think about why you want to try polyamory.

"Be as honest and vulnerable as possible," Winston advises. "Be aware of whether you are making this choice to bring more love, affection, intimacy, and adventure to your lives, or if you are making this choice to fix something in the relationship."

3. Do some research.

Winston recommends looking for stories from people who are practicing polyamory in a healthy way. "There are plenty of communities online, as well as numerous useful books."...

4. Communicate clearly.

"Communication is important in any relationship, and especially so in a non-monogamous context," says Winston. "It is of utmost important to be honest and active in your communication. Be honest about your desires, fantasies, insecurities, and fears, even if you're blushing like mad the whole time. Embrace these moments of vulnerability as opportunities for you and your partner to grow and deepen your intimacy. It can also be helpful to study particular communication techniques, such as non-violent communication and active listening."

5. Make sure any rules come from a positive place, not from fear.

"Because polyamory can be daunting, confronting, and scary, many couples start out making a laundry list of rules that are based in fear," Winston says....

"Instead of restricting your partner's activities, try communicating to your partner things he can do to help you feel more loved or more special," Winston suggests. "Instead of feeling like you need to keep each other 'in line' with a set of rules, communicate frequently what your desires are, and give each other opportunities to be considerate and gracious within those desires." Winston recommends creating an environment that's flexible and love-oriented, rather than harsh and regimented.

6. Create a Statement of Purpose.

Patricia Johnson, co-author of Designer Relationships: a Guide to Happy Monogamy, Positive Polyamory and Optimistic Open Relationships, recommends writing a mission statement or mission of purpose. "Be clear, and try to be specific about your intentions and aspirations," she says. "Instead of thinking of this as a negotiation, think of it as an exchange of ideas, hopes, and desires for the future, while keeping in mind that you are seeking common ground, areas where your sense of purpose is shared or congruent." Consider it a work in progress, something you may change over time....

A glaring omission from this section, however, is that you plan how you will treat a third person just as caringly and respectfully, even if the situation starts to stress your marriage.

7. Cultivate a spirit of shared adventure....

8. Don't rush anything.

This is the most important general principle, according to Johnson. "It is far better to attend an event or a party and to go home thinking, 'Wow, there’s so much more I could have done' than it is to wake up the next morning feeling some emotional backlash, tension between you, or a sense that you’ve gone too far."...

Read the whole article (March 30, 2015). It's been reprinted a few other places.

I wonder: is conventional poly wisdom like this repeated so often because it really is the distillation of 30 years of community experience? Or just because people repeat each other?

Both, I think, with the former driving the latter. I count our blessings that this virtuous cycle seems to be firmly established. Things might not have worked out this way.



March 28, 2015

Two more Kickstarter movies: *Monogamish* and a Tamera documentary

Following the Looks Like Love to Me and Twice movie projects on Kickstarter — both met their funding goals — two more poly-related Kickstarts are in progress. Both are documentaries.


This one blew past its original goal of $35,000 in just a few days. After his divorce, filmmaker Tao Ruspoli "took to the road for over 3 years to talk with relationship experts, best-selling authors, relatives, historians, artists, sex workers, philosophers and ordinary people, about love, sex and marriage, throughout history and into the 21st century."

Ruspoli says the filming is done; it includes Dan Savage, Esther Perel, Christopher Ryan, John Perry Barlow, Diana Adams, and Stephanie Coontz among others. "Monogamish is the world's first high-quality, wide-release film that includes interviews with all of the world-renowned experts in this subject area." The money will be used to produce the finished documentary and build publicity for it.

The pitch:

And here's the trailer for the movie itself.

Kickstarter page. Facebook page. Podcast interview with the director.

Healing of Love — Sex, Partnership and the Village

This is a documentary about the long-running Tamera commune in Portugal, "a school and research station for realistic utopia," which spun off from ZEGG in Germany. I wish the director had given the film a clearer title. Maybe that's why its Kickstarter campaign is off to a slow start; it's at $3,618 of $21,000 with 29 days to do.

Tamera, "a global leader on research into new models of love and relationship," has a story that deserves telling — with decades of poly intentional-community building, and apparently successful adaptation and evolution to surmount problems, giving it cred. Hint: think ZEGG Forum. Here's the pitch for the documentary (you can skip through the overlong animated first third).

Kickstarter page. Tamera's Facebook page with some of what they're currently up to.

Interview with the filmmaker.



March 21, 2015

"Mom, I Have Two Boyfriends: How I Discovered I Was Polyamorous at 27"


Lots of people post stories of how they discovered poly, but this one struck me as especially well done. It appeared in Jezebel, a feisty online women's magazine owned by the Gawker Media Group. Jezebel claims to have 15.5 million monthly US readers.

The story is illustrated by the author.

Mom, I Have Two Boyfriends: How I Discovered I Was Polyamorous at 27

By Sophie Lucido Johnson

Almost every girl has a movie that breaks her. It's usually something intended for children, like Cinderella. The girl watches it and gets hooked on this idea that if she has an impossibly tiny waist and can talk to birds, eventually she'll stumble upon the man of her dreams. He'll put her in a carriage, and for some reason she'll be into that.

...I loved all of it. I knew then what most girls know at some point in their life: all I wanted, more than anything, was to be found, rescued, and loved forever.

A little over a decade later, I had been in six long-term, serious relationships. By "long-term" I mean that they lasted over a year, and usually almost exactly a year and a half. By "serious" I mean that marriage was discussed in every one of them — including the first one, when I was 16. I couldn't stand the idea of being in a relationship that didn't have the potential of being my Bed of Roses relationship. The boys I dated were almost all wonderful — they were all "husband material," as my mother put it — but something always went wrong and they all ended. By the time I was in my mid-twenties and still not married with a dog in the yard and a kid on the way, I was pretty annoyed.

Then I got into the relationship that I was absolutely sure was The One.... And then, all of a sudden, it ended.

...I spent a LOT of nights alone in my room watching Gilmore Girls for a while, muttering statements that included the phrases, "alone forever," and "lots of cats." What had gone wrong? How had this perfect relationship broken? Where was Christian Slater when I needed him?

I spent days doing what too many girls do post-breakup: I made a long list of everything that must be wrong with me.... And then at some point, the list got so comically long that it didn't make sense anymore. Suddenly, in a Haagen Dazs daze, I realized something: Maybe the relationship hadn't ended because something was wrong with me. Maybe it had ended because something was wrong with the model.

Right around this time, my roommates, who are a couple (couples are everywhere when you go through a breakup), had started to read this book called Sex At Dawn....

Read on (March 16, 2015).


March 20, 2015

"What life is like in a polyamorous family"

The Week

If you missed this excellent, 3,000-word article when it appeared in Vocative last Christmas Eve (under the title "A Poly Family Portrait: More Love to Give"), it has now been reprinted in a more influential venue: the website of the newsmagazine The Week ("All you need to know about everything that matters").

What life is like in a polyamorous family

David Ryder / Vocativ

Cliff greets me at the door of his family's apartment in Tacoma, Washington, trying to contain an excited golden Labrador mix that has managed to wriggle between his legs. Behind him stands his wife, Britt, who offers a cheery hello, while their 3-year-old son, Gareth, sizes things up from a safe distance.

..."It is very normal, except for the fact that we have one more adult living in our household," says Britt. "The only real difference is that we're buying food for one more person, and that person sleeps in our bed."

Britt, Cliff and Dave are polyamorists, which is to say they are interested in romantic relationships with more than one person. Specifically, they are a triad, meaning they are involved with one another both emotionally and sexually. V formations, which are also common to polyamory, involve one person who has a relationship with two others who don't connect; quads are usually couples that come together, though not all parties will engage. But these formations are just frameworks people use to describe their situations — there are no rules to, and seemingly endless permutations of, poly.

...Britt is quick to point out that no one situation, her own family unit included, is representative of polyamory as a whole. "Poly is a build-your-own relationship structure. Your mileage will vary depending on what the person involved is doing," she explains. "All that really matters is that everyone is ethically treated. As long as everyone is on the same page, it can be whatever you want it to be."...

Read on (March 18, 2015).

The Week online has published several polyamory articles in the last two years. Either someone there likes us, or their stats say these articles get them a lot of hits.


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March 16, 2015

The state of poly research: Guest interview with Eli Sheff

Today we host a guest post by Dr. Anya Trahan and Liane Ortis. They interviewed sociologist Elisabeth Sheff, author of The Polyamorists Next Door and founder of the PolyResearchers Yahoo group, on how things currently stand with regard to research into polyfolks and their lives.

Take it away, Anya and Liane—


Who are we? We are two emerging poly researchers as well as members of the poly community. We are/were the first two scholars in our respective fields (that we know of) to embark on dissertations that explore the topic of polyamory. In so doing, we not only carefully review(ed) as much as we could from the general media on the poly movement, but we also review(ed) a growing body of research called Polyamory Studies, which usually only professors and academics read — the stuff that doesn’t make it into the mainstream news. Instead of boring you with a list of things you must read to understand the “researchey” side of polyamory (which we can provide upon request) we thought it would be more fun to talk to a prominent expert, one that we both deeply admire, about why some of this research might be interesting to you.

Dr. Elisabeth Sheff researches the diversity of identities and experiences of polyamorous families. She is the foremost academic and legal expert on polyamory in the United States. Among her many other accomplishments, Sheff provided a valuable contribution to the growing body of scholarship on polyamory by coining terms such as polyaffective, which describes emotionally intimate non-sexual relationships between poly people. She is author of The Polyamorists Next Door: Inside Multiple-Partner Relationships and Families, which presents the findings of her groundbreaking 15-year study. Sheff is collecting submissions for a new collection, Stories from the Polycule: Real Life in Polyamorous Families (to be published by Thorntree Press in October). Sheff has given more than 20 radio, print, podcast, and TV interviews with outlets from Radio Slovenia to National Public Radio, the Sunday London Times to the Boston Globe and Newsweek, CNN to National Geographic Television.

We thank Dr. Sheff for joining us and sharing her thoughts. We also welcome any further dialogue sparked by this post!


What purpose does academic research serve the poly community?

In general, I think academic research can help make the topic less personal: so polyamory can be shown as a social phenomenon, rather than just a whole bunch of slutty people. It can make things more understandable at a less visceral level. Polyamory is something that I think many people find profoundly threatening. Academic research on polyamory can remove the conversation from such a threatening, emergency feeling and place it in a much more calm and rational type of conversation.

Can you give examples of how published research has benefitted and/or harmed the poly community?

I think published research in general can benefit sexual minorities as a whole, and polyamorous research specifically, in terms of using facts, or evidence-based ideas, to counter hysteria or prejudice. For example, The Polyamorists Next Door has helped a couple different people introduce the concept of polyamory to their Child Protective Services workers.

In terms of harm, I haven't observed that aspect. I think I and others who are doing academic research on polyamory have been vigilant about protecting people's identities, and allowing the participants to choose their own level of out-ness. To my knowledge, no one has ever been accidentally outed in my own research, and I know that a majority of other researchers continually stress the privacy aspect. And, in the United States, as well as in many other places across the world, universities have strict IRB (Institutional Review Board) standards for researchers. IRBs are charged with maintaining the welfare and rights of people involved in research, and polyamory researchers, just like other researchers, must follow those strict standards.

What are the most influential pieces you recommend everyone read, both academic and non-academic?

I think it depends on what people are looking for. If they’re looking for a more theoretical treatment of polyamorous families, I strongly recommend Dr. Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli’s book: Border Sexualities, Border Families In Schools. She does this great update and forward of the Mestiza idea that Gloria E. Anzaldúa came up with about living on the "border."

Also in terms of academic work, it’s hard to go wrong with Meg Barker; she has written both academic and popular press.

In terms of non-academic work, there’s More Than Two by Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert. It’s a much more practical guide to polyamory. So I think that’s a great one in terms of really practical responses.

For another practical book, there’s Kathy Labriola’s The Jealousy Workbook: Exercises and Insights for Managing Open Relationships. She has been in the poly community as well as treating polyamorous folks in relationship counseling for years. I find her book just really well done, non-judgmental, and kind of a realistic way to deal with jealousy.

Do you feel current methods of academic research can adequately represent the variety of experiences and identities within the poly community? How so?

I think current methods can accurately represent the "mainstream polyamory community." I think the sampling techniques (how one gains participants for research), which tend towards internet research and snowball sampling [asking recruits to find other recruits], tend to produce these very white, educated samples of people. I think those procedures lead to a somewhat false homogeneity.

Also, polyamorous people with less privilege (in terms of race, economic status, etc.) are not necessarily being captured by this research. Their voices are not coming forward because they have more to lose from participating.

How important is the popular media (news articles, blogs, podcasts, books for general audiences) to the academic research being done on the poly movement?

It’s actually fairly important in that it brings much greater public awareness to polyamory. So journal editors, who in 2004 had never heard of it, or viewed it as this crazy fringe thing, or questioned why should we talk about this in academia because ‘there are really more important things’, now recognize submissions about polyamory. So I think it makes the research more likely to be taken seriously and get published. Hopefully as polyamory becomes more socially widespread there can be funding for research.

In our own academic fields (Dr. Anya in rhetoric and writing studies; Liane Ortis in higher-ed administration), we were/are the first researchers to take on projects dedicated solely to exploring polyamory in depth. At this time, sociology and psychology seem to be churning out the most research on polyamory. Have you heard of any other fields that have, recently, broached the topic?

Yes. Anthropology — which is a lot like sociology, or sociology is a lot like anthropology. Social psychology — which is so much like sociology and psychology. Geriatrics and life-course aging studies. Family studies. There are certainly some medical studies for looking at the transmission of sexually transmitted infections in consensually non-monogamous relationships versus non-consensually non-monogamous relationships. Also, the legal field is looking at monogamy/non-monogamy, particularly decisions made on hearsay and fear versus facts surrounding families/children.

What is the most pressing work that needs to be done in the future? What’s missing?

I think looking at the long-term effects of polyamorous relationships, in terms of physical and mental health, and financial stability, and [whether] these relationships really foster well-being over the long haul. My hypothesis is that if people get over the hump of figuring out how to deal with multiple partners and can establish a supportive network, folks in multi-partner relationships are actually going to be better off than folks in monogamous relationships because they have a wider support network.


...and her forthcoming book cover.
Anya Trahan...
Dr. Anya Trahan is a relationship coach and spiritual counselor. Her book about polyamory, Opening Love: Intentional Relationships and the Evolution of Consciousness, will be published by Changemakers Books in May 2015. Anya's doctoral dissertation is available free online: Relationship Literacy and Polyamory: A Queer Approach. Contact her or learn more at dranya.net.

Liane Ortis
Liane Ortis is a social justice and diversity educator who speaks, develops and delivers workshops, and consults on all areas of identity. Liane’s goal is to assist institutions and individuals with creating more inclusive, accessible, and equitable living and working environments. She is a doctoral student in Higher Education Administration at Bowling Green State University; her dissertation, in progress, is titled, “Identity Meaning-Making Among Polyamorous Students in Postsecondary Educational Contexts: A Constructivist Queer Theory Case Study.” Liane can be reached at liane.ortis@gmail.com or found on Facebook.



March 14, 2015

The "Looks Like Love To Me" triad suddenly become global stars

Late last summer, an enthusiastic delta triad put up a Kickstarter campaign to raise $5,000 for a web video series about themselves and their two babies about to be born. The series was to be called Looks Like Love to Me. Their description:

Dani and Melinda have been a boundary-pushing, adventurous couple since 2008

and domestically partnered since 2010.

In 2012 they decided to find the "perfect" man to continue life and build a family with.

After 2.5 years of being a "Polyamorous Triad", they now have two babies on the way…and only two weeks apart!

This web series is dedicated to exploring our story. We aim to expose ourselves in an effort to educate, inspire, and pioneer Love in all its various forms. The web series will include issues such as:

Our double pregnancies and parenting journey
Our triple wedding that occurred on July 18th, 2014 (check out our Wedding Teaser Mini-sode here)
Sex, Jealousy, Money, Communication, and beyond...
The support and judgments of friends, family, and society
Our daily life as a loving and healthy triad family
Interviews with other polyamorous and alternative love seekers
We already have a ton of footage and a dedicated team, so we're well on our way to making this project a reality.

They raised the $5,000 but didn't make their goal of having the first "season" of videos done by January; instead they decided to make a single long documentary rather than a series of shorts. They've got a lot of footage on their website LooksLikeLoveToMe.com, and more in the can. The producer is longtime polyactivist Stefunny Pettee, also of the Bay Area. Their site now says,

Our goal is to create a documentary of the story from the meeting of Dani and Melinda, through their marriage, finding Jon, their pregnancies and birth, and on until the babies Oliver and Ella Lynn become one year old.

Which will be in October.

This week they suddenly got a huge burst of publicity. It happened after they were featured on the website of the UK's Daily Mail ("that dreadful rag" to many Brits), which is aggressively expanding its online presence in the US. The story is happy as happy can be, quite unlike how the Daily Mail once treated polyamory. Excerpts:

'We breastfeed each other's babies!' Polyamorous man's two wives give birth within 30 days of one another — and all three insist they couldn't be happier

By Georgina Bisval

On September 6, 2014 Melinda Phoenix was overjoyed to welcome her first son Oliver into the world.

But it wasn't just her husband Jonathan Stein, 32, from Oakland, California, who shared her joy in the delivery room. Incredibly his second wife Dani, who was also pregnant, was beside them to witness it too.

And just 35 days later on October 11, it was Melinda's turn to offer her support to 30-year-old Dani in the delivery room, when she gave birth to Jonathan's second baby, a beautiful baby girl named Ella Lynn.

Jonathan, Dani, and Melinda are a polyamorous family, which means that they all believe in having more than one partner.

The trio and their two children all live under the same roof, with all three parents sharing every aspect of parenthood, from nighttime feeds to diaper changes.

'It might seem strange to a lot of people, but to us it makes perfect sense,' Melinda, 28, who runs her own healing company, East-West Collaborative Health, told Daily Mail Online. 'We all love each other and it was our dream to fall pregnant at the same time.

'Unlike conventional couples who are sleep deprived when a newborn comes along, there are three of us to take it in turns on the night shift. We breastfeed each others babies, split the finances three ways and the housework too.

'Even sex is great, as if one person is not feeling up for it, then there are two other people to choose from.'

Dani added: 'We compliment each other perfectly as our parenting styles are so different.'...

Until Dani met Melinda in 2008, Melinda had only been in monogamous relationships with men, while Dani had enjoyed relationships with both men and women. But after meeting at a music festival, the pair knew they were destined to spend the rest of their lives together....


'My mom thought it was a joke when Dani and I got married, so when we told her about Jonathan she just thought we were crazy,' Melinda explained. 'Some of Jonathan's friends just thought it was all about kinky sex and thought it was just plain weird. So much so he doesn't talk to some of them anymore.

'Dani's family had a hard time accepting it too.

'But luckily there were others, like Jonathan's mom Sandy, who thought what we had was amazing and gave us their full blessing.'

The threesome also had to learn to overcome their own feelings of jealousy too.

'At times it has been hard to adapt to, as for me just being with Melinda was enough,' Dani explained. 'So to see her fall in love with Jonathan was at times tough.

'But I began to realize that I could love him too, in my own way. And the more we talked to each other, the easier over time it has got. There are moments when I just want Melinda to myself, but now there are also moments when I feel just as strongly about Jonathan too. We have just learnt to cope better as time goes on.

'Now we all make sure we give each of us time together and separately. If Melinda wants a night out just with Jonathan, I am fine with that and likewise with her.

'Sexually it works perfectly as while we do make love together and me just with Melinda or Jonathan, I don't have as high a sex drive as Melinda, so she gets to satisfy that part of her personality with Jonathan too.'

By the end of 2013 Melinda, Dani and Jonathan were living together and began making plans to start a family....

'We all have a fabulous sex life, share the same bed, so we just made sure we timed things correctly and prayed our wishes would come true,' Melinda said. 'I found out I was pregnant on January 14th this year and two weeks later we all let out a scream of pure delight when we found out Dani was expecting too.'...


'People sometimes ask us: "Are you not worried about the kids getting bullied at school?"' Melinda admitted. 'But in all honesty it is not something that concerns us.

'We had agreed that when they become old enough we will explain our situation and are committed to instill them with tools to face any hurdle they may encounter.

'Thankfully we live in community that is pretty liberal and over time we hope families like ours will not be in a minority. Because in all honesty we think having two moms and one dad is the perfect way to raise a child, in a home full of love.

'We are even open to taking in even more lovers if it feels right in the future, as more hands make for an easier life.'

The paper defined polyamory well in a sidebar:


Polyamory is the philosophy and practice of loving multiple people simultaneously.

Those who believe in polyamory often involve themselves with more than one partner, and in many cases, will marry more than one person [sic].

The belief is focused around each person being able to consciously decide how many partners he or she wishes to be involved with, rather than accepting society's more traditional views on relationships and marriage, which dictate that people should only love and commit to one person at a time.

Polyamory embraces sexual equality and all sexual orientations; polyamorous relationships can involve as many people as each person wishes, and can involved people of all sexes.

See the whole article, with lots of lovely pix (March 9, 2015).

The story wasn't new; the same author published a very similar piece about them in the UK's equally downmarket Reveal magazine last November: One husband, two wives: one family's polyamorous relationship! (Nov. 21, 2014).

The Daily Mail article was syndicated into US newspapers and also resulted in fresh stories being written here. The one that's probably been going around most is a long, more straightforward piece at SFGate, the website of the San Francisco Chronicle in the family's own backyard:

An Oakland family has found what they think is the key to a happy household: three parents.

By Amy Graff

Two women named Melinda and Dani Phoenix and the man they both consider their husband, Jonathan Stein, are in a polyamorous relationship and parenting two babies together under the same roof.

Melinda and Dani began their relationship as a lesbian couple and became domestic partners in 2010. A year later, Jonathan joined them as the third partner and the three married last summer in a ceremony that is not legally recognized.

Now they’re sharing their story to raise awareness about polyamorous families and hope that some day these arrangements can be widely accepted and legally recognized. With children entering their picture, they feel gaining support from the community is more important than ever.

...While many new parents are sleep-deprived and overwhelmed, this trio are gliding through parenthood as they take turns with childcare, diaper changes and nighttime feedings.

“We split things up,” Dani says. “We’re all working hard and well as a team.”

“Melinda and I both breastfeed. He’s my son and she’s my daughter and vice versa. We share that responsibility and that love with them.”

In addition to nurturing two new babies, the three parents are working various degrees of part-time hours outside the home. Dani has a low-key dog-walking service, Melinda runs her own healing studio in Oakland called East-West Collaborative Health, and Jonathan keeps busy as a self-employed carpenter. Together, they earn enough money to cover household expenses.

With three parents rotating kid duty, it’s also possible for the two moms to advance their careers by going to school. Melinda is earning a degree in Chinese medicine and after a semester break, she’s now loading up on extra units while Dani stays home to watch the babies.

“I’m the primary boob for the babies,” Dani says, jokingly.

Dani plans to return to school in the fall to finish her degree to become a sign language interpreter, and Jonathan will support her by accepting fewer carpentry jobs and spending more time with the babies.


Polyamory is a term used to define people who love multiple partners at the same time. A polyamorous relationship can range from a married person with multiple love interests to an informal group marriage. Some engage in group sex while others have one-on-one sexual relationships with multiple partners.

Polygamy falls under the polyamory umbrella and refers to a structure with one man who dominates over two or more wives. In a polygamous relationship the wives don’t have an intimate relationship. The Stein-Phoenix clan is different because Melinda and Dani are romantically involved and all three partners are viewed as equals.

“If one was to put a fancy label on our relationship one would say we are a poly fidelitous triad, meaning we are focused on just the three of us (for now at least) and not open to other partners,” Dani says.

Jonathan, Dani and Melinda are sharing their version of polyamory in video clips and blogs on their website LooksLikeLovetoMe.com. Dani has chronicled the story ever since she and Melinda first met at a music festival in 2008 and is now collaborating with local videographer Stephanie Pettee to produce a documentary that reveals the mystery behind a polyamorous family.

“We get so many questions about our relationship,” Dani told SFGate. “Our mission is to share our story and answer some of those questions...."


With the UK press recently covering the family’s story, the trio are hearing from people all over the world who have been touched by their philosophy.

“We’ve received great responses from individuals who feel inspired by the story,” Dani says. “People who aren’t happy in their relationships are writing in. We’re hearing from people who are polyamorous but can’t be open about it.”

Extended family have been supportive with Jonathan’s mom attending their three-way wedding and Dani’s mom flying out from the East Coast to meet the new babies.

But the harshest critics have been a few family members from conservative backgrounds. Melinda’s mom was slow to warm up to their situation.

“She didn’t come to the wedding and didn’t even want to see us,” Jonathan said in an interview. “But now she’s inviting us to bring the grandchildren to the house.”


Jonathan says the biggest misconception people have about their relationship is that he rules the roost, but he’s quick to point out that this is an equal partnership.

“People think that because I have two wives that I’ve succeeded in life as a man,” Jonathan says. “But really it’s more like a bisexual women couple and their husband. It’s not a masculine-run household.”


“There’s a huge polyamorous community that people don’t even know about,” Dani says. “Society really looks down on it, so we understand why poly people don’t ‘come out.’

“We want to show that love is beautiful and it’s OK to talk about it, regardless of what it ‘looks like.’ It’s really like any of the civil rights movements of the past, the more people are respectfully exposed to it the more people will accept it. We’re proud to get the conversations started.”

The whole article, again with lots of pix (March 11, 2015).

Following the Daily Mail story, Dani (now with a buzzcut) posted a self-described "rant" about how its original title assumed that the man took two wives, polygamy-style, when in fact it was two long-partnered bisexual women who went looking for a guy:

They've started keeping a media page of their coverage, so I'll refer you there for the rest. It includes pieces in Belgium, Germany, and Bosnia, though I see they missed the one in a moms' magazine in Nigeria: "Heard of Polyamory?" (March 10, 2015).

And they've been on three radio shows, with at least one more apparently lined up.

They're overwhelmed. Dani posted to their Facebook page on Tuesday,

Since I woke this morning we have been contacted by a dozen news reporters, film producers, new supporters and even a doctor!

Our story was published in the UK recently and has 2.2 THOUSAND shares! And friends in other countries are linking us to our story--one found today in the Belgium news.

It's a super strange feeling, equal parts of exciting and scary. Which one would you feel?

Once again, we're so lucky that such fine people are willing to drop their privacy and serve as poly faces to the world.

Would like to try? The media demand for out polyfolks exceeds the supply. There's a particular need for greater diversity. Your entree to poly-in-the-media stardom, with lots of media-savvy advice and inside knowledge from experience, is to contact the ever-helpful Robyn Trask, director of the Loving More poly-educational nonprofit. Reach her through the contact link on the Loving More homepage. Say I sent you. Robyn maintains a list, still too short, of people she can refer writers and reporters to when they call Loving More.


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A Happy Poly Pi Day card

Had to give this one a signal boost.

Pass it on; here's her original on Tumbler and Facebook.

Here in the Eastern time zone, Exact Pi Instant (3/14/15 9:26:53.5897932384... a.m) has already passed, but the p.m. reprise is coming up tonight! Kiss your geekysweeties. There's a Pi Day every year, but no Exact Pi Instant for another century.


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March 11, 2015

The Humanist Hour interviews articulate PolyColumbus activists

Susan Porter (left) and Rose McDonnell
The Humanist Hour is a monthly podcast produced by the American Humanist Association. It's also on the Public Reality Radio online network and a couple of small stations in Michigan and Pennsylvania.

This month's episode (number 141) is What Is Polyamory All About?, featuring the brilliant Susan Porter and Rose McDonnell of PolyColumbus in Ohio, which helped sponsor the Beyond The Love poly conference there last November.

Listen here. They're thoughful and sharp — great new representatives we're lucky to have. They start at 6:30 into the program.

The blurb:

Bo Bennett and Kim Ellington interview Susan Porter and Rose McDonnell from PolyColumbus.org. Listen as they discuss polyamory – the practice of having multiple simultaneous sexual and/or romantic partners.

From the PolyColumbus.org website:

PolyColumbus empowers individuals that either self-identify as polyamorous, open, or ethically non-monogamous, or are exploring such possibilities. We build community to provide a safe and inclusive place to not only be ourselves, but also meet like-minded individuals from all backgrounds.

We advocate for the equal treatment of the ethically non-monogamous under law, and for broader societal acceptance of the same. We serve organizations with similar goals by documenting best practices and creating other resources for successfully running such an organization.

Finally, we educate each other, allied organizations, and the broader community on what it means to be ethically non-monogamous.