Polyamory in the News!
. . . by Alan M.

May 24, 2017

NPR: "It's Polyamorous Polysaturation — Unconventional Relationships Abound On TV"

We're not the only ones noticing. On NPR's "All Things Considered" this afternoon, with video clips:

It's Polyamorous Polysaturation — Unconventional Relationships Abound On TV

By Neda Ulaby / NPR News

Laura Ramadei (center) as Annie, who gets involved with a different couple in every episode of the web series Unicornland.

Let's look at some of the buzziest shows on television in the past year or so, shall we? What do House of Cards, Girls, I Love Dick, Orphan Black, Transparent and The Magicians have in common?

Every one of them has featured unconventional romantic or sexual relationships involving more than two people.

Exhibit A: the arrangement between the fictional president of the United States and First Lady on one of Netflix's most popular shows, House of Cards. The most powerful couple on Earth enjoyed a joint affair with one of their Secret Service protectors. The two also regularly pursue separate romantic interests.

Exhibit B: I Love Dick's entire premise rests on a couple's shared crush on a famous artist (named, of course, Dick). And the lead character in Girls gets pregnant after a fleeting relationship with a man in an open relationship. (It's also worth mentioning the failed threeway turned bonding experience between two of the main characters.)

On the other hand, Orphan Black's three-ways tend to feature evil clones. A university professor on Transparent insists on non-monogamy with her much younger girlfriend. In The Magicians, polyamorous marriage is literally magical. And a new show called You Me Her concerns a suburban married couple bringing a girlfriend into their relationship.

As for reality TV, surprise! It's not to be outdone. TLC's polygamous hit Sister Wives was briefly joined on its home channel by a special called Brother Husbands, both about unconventional marriages. The channel further upped the stakes by introducing a throuple — three people in a relationship — on its bridal gown shopping show, Say Yes To The Dress.

...Of course, pushing boundaries and titillating viewers is nothing new for television. ... [But] what's happening now [notes MTV Networks general manager Nusrat] Duranni, is that many of these open relationships currently shown on television are an ongoing part of storylines, key to driving plots and understanding major characters. They're not just stunts.

...The dramatic appeal of multi-partner relationships seems self-evident. But Lucy Gillespie takes them as seriously as other subjects she's investigated, such as Occupy Wall Street and Lee Atwater. The 32-year-old created an online-only series called Unicornland. It's about a young woman who hooks up with a different couple in every episode.

...Her main character learns about the pitfalls of venturing into other people's messy relationships: "I didn't get out of a bad marriage to join yours," she tells an insufferable husband who isn't listening to his wife.

Perhaps what we're seeing reflects a society where so many old rules about gender and sexuality are in flux.... Opening a relationship can feel like a fantasy, a fix or both. Gillespie likens it to a hack.... "We're all sort of trying to hack our lives and make our lives more interesting and optimal," she says.

That said, Gillespie's about to enter a monogamous marriage herself. Maybe, she says simply, there's not a better mousetrap. But Dan Savage points out that the stories about the mice that play accomplish what television, film, and literature have always done: push the envelope, make you think, provide vicarious experiences, and give you a chance to contemplate your choices.

Here's the whole article (May 24, 2017). Click the button at top left there to listen to this segment of the show (4:48).


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If we don't represent poly to the media, look who will.

Adam Lyons, the self-declared "luckiest man in the world" but not exactly our best face for poly, is doing another publicity blast. It's going all around the world wherever British tabloid content is marketed, courtesy of the News Dog Media agency. Here's the version in the UK's Daily Mail, for instance, which includes heaps of promo pictures and a video:

British man who lives with TWO girlfriends becomes a dad by BOTH women: 'The luckiest man alive' insists raising a child in a 'throuple' is the future of parenting

– Adam Lyons, from London is in a relationship with Jane and Brooke
– The 36-year-old now lives in Austin, Texas with his two girlfriends
– Threesome share a king size bed and are co-parenting Brooke's and Adam's son
– Now Jane is expecting and all three will raise baby boy together
– Adam says their unique arrangement actually makes life easier

...For Adam Lyons and his two girlfriends, it's three parents who are getting increasingly excited about their forthcoming bundle of joy.

Two years ago, Adam Lyons, 36, who is from East London, but now lives in Austin, Texas, was dubbed 'the luckiest man alive' because of his unusual living arrangements with his two girlfriends Brooke Shedd and Jane Shalakhova.

At the time, Adam and Brooke had son, Dante, two, together but now the 'throuple' are expecting again after Jane fell pregnant.

Brooke, Jane, and Adam (l. to r.), with Dante

The threesome — who share a super-kingsize bed — believe the new baby, due in July, will make their family even more complete.

Adam, 36, says: 'It's so sweet that we all get to parent and raise the kids together.

'We have talked about it at length and we all consider ourselves parents to the children.'

...Adam, who runs his own business consulting company Psychology Hacker, says: 'For us, three people works because it enables us to manage daily life so much better.' ...

The whole article (May 18, 2017). You can also see them on TV via the UK's Daily Mirror (video autoplays).

That Psychology Hacker company? It's the current iteration of Adams's dating-coach business. On its opening page is a pic of him smiling into the camera with the ladies on either side of him:


My family and I have been in the press recently, and a lot of people have started calling me “the luckiest man in the world”. But the has nothing to do with luck. I’m not in my relationship by accident, I don’t drive a Maserati by accident, I don’t have my 40 acre ranch by accident, I don’t have 2 homes by accident; none of this was by lucky accident.

The fact is that I followed some simple psychological hacks to get to where I am today, and I’ve created a way for you to learn each of these hacks as well!

You may remember our past reporting about media spotlighting him, Brooke, and Jane. Here's a reprint from what I posted after they appeared on The Steve Harvey Show last year:


Update the next morning: Uh-oh, there's more to this story! Green Fizzpops went poking further and comments,

If you go to the article about this interview on Adam's website, the video promising to teach you more -- seems very much like teaching pick up artist (PUA) techniques to unicorns hunters. [That link is now dead, but here is Adam's listing on PUAmore.com.]

I caution against supporting pua techniques.

Turns out Adam runs a dating-techniques-for-men business (along with Brooke and Jane). With an emphasis on manipulative, creepy-sounding techniques for unicorn hunting. This is from the front page of his website [the original one with the dead link:]

Adam Lyons is a well known dating coach. Not only has he been voted #1 in the world for his craft for multiple years, he has written articles for AskMen.com and featured in a number of documentaries such as “The Rules of Seduction” on Channel 4. He is widely regarded as a top expert in attraction and seduction.

...One of the biggest questions this throuple gets asked... is how polyamorous and monogamous couples can add another girl to their life. Even the most well intentioned and charming couple can make a few mistakes that trigger something known as the “creep alarm.” This prevents any type of wooing from happening and cuts the interaction short before it can actually develop.

That’s why Adam created this special video for you that answers this question and teaches you to…
  – Get past a girl’s creep alarm… 
  – Trigger the chemical that makes her fall in love… 
  – and get her inner voice working for you instead of against you…

Read the comments to that post. The JJ Roberts in the mudfest there is the author of Sex 3.0, used by a rival relationship-advice business. These men seem to know each other too well. Roberts goes on a rant about how unattractive Brooke is with her half-buzzcut (WTF?), and how can a guy who poses as an expert in attraction allow his woman to look like that (WTF?).

The batch of tabloid articles about the triad last April [2015] gives more of their backstory. I should have done more homework then.

If you've never heard of PUA training, here's the xkcd's comic's famous take. If you're not up to speed on how PUAs are regarded generally, a typical tale: I Dated An Ex-Pickup Artist.

More update: In a hot reddit thread after the show, Adam (AFCAdam) defends his position:

The PUA industry split in half.
Half moving towards aggressive tactics and manipulation (look at gunwitch method... Warning it's unpleasant)
The other moved towards self improvement and becoming attractive (look up the art of charm)
We've evolved and changed.
PUA fragmented.
I identify as a dating coach.
We get customers based on people wanting to get laid sure.
But then again...
So does tinder, Match.com etc.
The difference is we teach them that focusing on getting laid doesn't work.
You need to focus on empathy.
Being a real person.
Having goals. Encouraging your partner to have theirs.
I educate people in this.
Teach them these techniques.
I'm still evolving too.
Still learning more.
And continuing to teach and help others.
I've lost count of the amount of men if changed develop into actual caring people, who lead healthy communicative relationships.
As I said. The media gets this, my students and clients get this.
My girlfriends get this.
The only people who currently don't.
Are the polyamory communityX
That continues to judge and insult our family.


Well, for all I know, his self-positioning on the side of PUA angels may be correct. But a sour reaction to his current publicity wave just popped up from a very pro-poly editor of YourTango: Polyamorous Man With 2 Families Says Life Is Easy For Them — And I'm Calling BS (May 23):

By Rebecca Jane Stokes

Dude, come on!

...Adam's back in the news these days talking about how "EASY" and "GREAT" it is to raise children with two women helping him out.

...They don't talk about the insane amount of talking and communicating that has to go on to make these relationships work.

They don't talk about how hard it can be.

My boyfriend's girlfriend is due to give birth at the end of the summer, and I'm here to tell you that it's been hard on me. You know what's harder? Me not feeling like I can tell him just how hard it is too often, because I know what shitty position that puts him in.

In many ways, his girlfriend's pregnancy has been the thing that has glued us together, as I have written about before. Adam talks about sharing the responsibility in a way that sounds cultish to me. ... Don't confuse my trust and love for my boyfriend for some sort of poly mind control that has me convinced my life is perfect. It's not. It's hard. It's tough. There are hurt feelings. It's a lot like any other relationship in that respect.

And, where are the voices of the two women in all this? Yes, they get nice quotes in the publicity articles, and they do well on TV. But one gets the feeling that this enterprise is a one-man show.

What is to be done?

Not much. If we want to be represented better to the world than this, we need to get out there and do it ourselves.


Update: In case that listing for Adam Lyons on PUAmore.com goes away, here it is:

Adam Lyons, aka AFC Adam, born September 12th 1980, is a pickup artist first appearing in 2007, and voted as “the guy that will never have a girlfriend” in high-school. Having limited access to women until his mid-twenties, he was obsessed with Dungeons and Dragons and Warhammer. Like many other pickup artists, he was introduced by Neil Strauss’s bestseller “The Game”. Before his established presence at the pickup community scene, he worked as a PR manager for many companies.

Today, AFC Adam Lyons is affiliated with the “PUA Training” company and bravely continues to build his own personal reputation. Even though he tried to keep a low profile, rumors are that in 2007 he picked up Shabnam, a Big Brother celebrity, the same night she left the house. In 2009 he got married to Amanda Torres (now Lyons), after 2 years of dating. As a former student of Mystery’s, he uses a lot of his concepts, but pushes them to extreme limits.

Some of his method still rely on the social proof concept and pre-selection, but are somehow altered and upgraded. AFC Adam Lyons' so-called formulas start with building comfort, the stage where you befriend your target and establish the social proof. Then you continue towards the break rapport, where you take away your target, and continue towards building more value and make space for the girl to qualify. Only then you directly perform escalation to sex, resulting in instant attraction.
Some of his convictions are that a great part of being happy in life is being comfortable in your own skin, and that happiness comes from within. He defines “pre-selection” as a situation when you surround yourself with people that want you, making other people (you want) to feel attracted to you. As a person, AFC Adam Lyons does not find satisfaction in a simple lifestyle. It is not enough for him to have few stable friends, a dull job and joy of drinking in the pubs and clubs over the weekends. He teaches his students to get out of the routine and make themselves more interesting.

He is a published author of many books and trainer and coach at many courses. Some of his most popular products are: “Principles of Attraction”, “Beyond The Game, “The 21 Convention 2012 (North America)”, “Real Man Conference 2008 DVD”, “Spectrum Series: AFC Adam and Speer on Social Proof”, “Real Man Conference 2008”, “Ultimate Natural Game”, “The 21 Convention Event Footage (2007-2009)”, “Instant Attraction Training Course”, “AFC Adam VIP Monthly Training”, “Lifestyle Seduction”, “Attraction Explained VIP Membership”, “Secrets of Transitioning to Sex”, “Street Seduce”, “The Guru Black Book”, “Breaking Rapport”, “Understand Attraction”, “Valentine’s Day For Singles”, “Adam Lyons Qualification” and a lot more.

During his intense work experience, Adam won many prestigious awards among which “Thundercat’s Seduction Lair Top 10 Pick Up Artist List 2009”, “TheLSS.com 2007 to date”, “World PUA Summit 2007: Number 1 Ranking UK” and many more. He received approval and sincere respect from his colleagues dating coaches like David Wygant, Mr M (Jim Stark), Braddock and Vince Kelvin. He made notable appearances on D8.tv, Fox4, featured in the Channel 4 documentary “Rules of Seduction”, in Maxim Magazine, on NBC and CBS, Fox News, Kerrang, The Independent made a cover story on his background and many more appearances on television programs.

Source: http://puamore.com/dating-coaches/afc-adam-lyons/#ixzz4i1g3lLSR


May 23, 2017

More reaction to "Is an Open Marriage a Happier Marriage?" – good, bad, and ugly

The enormous May 14th cover story of the New York Times Magazine, Is an Open Marriage a Happier Marriage? (and its online followup 'We Choose Each Other Over and Over Because We Want To') raised a fair amount of buzz. I posted about poly-community reaction calling out the article's limited viewpoints and ethics juggling: Representation, Or Not. Here are some responses from the wider world.

● Sari Cooper, sex educator and therapist based in New York, wrote this on her Psychology Today site: What the NY Times Article Missed and What Therapists Need to Learn (May 15). It's worth quoting at length. And, keep the link to send to therapists who need to read this.

What the NY Times Article Missed and What Therapists Need to Learn

Sari Cooper
One of the differences in my practice today versus ten years ago, is the openness with which couples are entering therapy to discuss their desire to open up their monogamous relationships. They also contact my Center for Love and Sex to discuss their well-established open relationships and work on better communication skills, get advice around parenting, or discuss a renegotiation.
...The author was helpful in revealing that opening up or living within non-monogamous agreements are really for people who are interested in talking about their feelings.... But some other significant points were missed, in my opinion.

The article didn’t present the full spectrum of diversity in the non-monogamous communities, including those that come from various ethnicities, cultures and sexual practices. ...

While the author cited important historical sources like Open Marriage by Nena and George O’Neill from the 1970’s and The Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton, the article neglected to cite Opening Up by Tristan Taormino or Designer Relationships by Patricia Johnson and Mark Michaels, significant [and more recent] contributions handed down by people immersed in these communities. Johnson and Michaels point out that the couples portrayed in the article chose “nonmonogamy as a solution for marital problems, as opposed to something that people enthusiastically choose”.

Canadian polyfamily. (Galit Rodan / Globe & Mail)
One of the emotions the writer didn’t name explicitly in her article was that of compersion. ... This feeling is hard for committed monogamists to understand, and many therapists have difficulty trusting that this emotion is authentic since we have all been brought up in a world where jealousy seems the norm. It’s not that non-monogamous individuals never feel jealousy, they just work on it in a deeply committed way while also feeling compersion. So when a client of mine is expressing joy that his wife is experiencing a new kind of arousal with her boyfriend, most traditional therapists might look for some sort of pathology as to why this husband isn’t exclusively feeling jealous of his wife’s partner.

While the Times story included a therapist who told one of the couples they were likely heading for divorce, it didn’t articulate how this reflection showed the monogamous-centric attitude the therapist seemed to hold. The omission [was] a missed opportunity to reveal a professional blind spot in most general therapists’ toolkits. ...

Given that many couples therapists and sex therapists see many couples in crisis when an affair or infidelity has been discovered, it is curious that these same therapists have trouble treating a consensually non-monogamous couple with a different lens. Many therapists believe that those practicing a non-monogamous relationship structure are somehow damaged in their attachment styles.... And while there are those in the CNM (Consensual Non-Monogamous) community that break rules set up by their primary partner and lover, why would they be seen differently than supposed monogamous couples where one partner was unfaithful?

...The woman Elizabeth featured in the article was seeing a married man who wasn’t “out” with his wife about seeing another woman. So in fact, he was cheating on his wife with a woman who was being open with her husband. I agree with [Kevin] Patterson that this arrangement is unethical non-monogamy, since not all parties involved have chosen this arrangement, and not something that many communities accept given the lack of transparency for all involved.

...Many couples have come to my practice after seeing a general couples’ therapist who told them that they were heading for a divorce, or who tried to convince them their lifestyle itself was the source of their conflict. The couple ended the treatment having felt like their presenting issue was not addressed and that the therapist was not informed.

...If therapists are supposed to help clients in their romantic relationships, they need to be able to see past society’s and their own discipline’s history of negative views of non-monogamy. It would be critical for them to learn that recent research shows that non-consensual partners in partnerships/marriages (those cheating, or having affairs) are significantly less likely to use protective sexual behaviors with both their lovers and partners (leaving them both open to STIs), and less likely to participate in frequent STI testing, than consensually non-monogamous individuals.

When I presented at an AASECT (American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists) several years ago on the Clinical Implications when Working with Non-Monogamous Couples, the response was so overwhelming the organizers had to move us into the largest ballroom to accommodate the audience.

...My colleague Esther Perel, whose upcoming book The State of Affairs explores these issues... [says] therapists who are able to hold them through the emotional rollercoaster of recovery will learn about the private domains of their partners as much as the private domains they had avoided within themselves. It is this type of continual self and partner discovery that open, communicative monogamous and CNM partners can gain when they share their deep longings and fantasies in a non-judgmental context, whether they're at home or with a CNM-informed therapist who is willing to meet them where they are.

Jezebel addressed a well-known feminist angle: Are Women More Into Polyamory Than Men? (May 12):

By Aimée Lutkin

...In a very long and moving piece for the New York Times, Susan Dominus interviewed dozens of non-monogomous or “monogomish” couples in open marriages to see what additional people brought to their life, both good and bad.

...Dominus began to note in her interviews that the majority of the heterosexual couples opened up their relationships at the instigation of the women. Of the 25 couples, only 6 were opened up at the man’s suggestion, and even in cases where it was mutual, the woman were generally more sexually active outside the relationship.

...In his book [What Women Want, Daniel] Bergner cites research suggesting that women desire novelty as much as men.... and may desire variety at an even higher level to be truly excited about sex, but societal structures discourage women for reaching for what they want. In an open (but committed) relationship, many women are able to find that mix of stability and excitement they crave. It should be noted, however, that that need for stability is just as likely a construct taught to women as the myth of a low sex drive is.

At any rate, everyone Dominus spoke with seemed to say that their approach to non-monogamy had brought sexual energy back into their relationships with their primary partners, and also opened up channels of communication they’d never been able to tap into before....

● Susan Dominus herself held a reddit AMA ("Ask Me Anything") and answered a lot of reader questions about the article and her year of research for it (May 15).

Dominus is also interviewed on the Slate podcast DoubleX Gabfest, "Slate’s weekly women's roundtable" (May 18. It's not particularly revelatory.)

● Now from the serious to the shallow: Cosmopolitan summarized the story in 10 points with these lead sentences:

10 Things People in Open Marriages Want You to Know

By Laura Beck

In The New York Times Susan Dominus explores the concept of open marriages, something more and more people are doing, but don't necessarily feel comfortable talking about. Here are some of the misconceptions she breaks down in the course of her enlightening article.

1. Open relationships can mean many things, arrangement-wise....

3. Technology is making open marriages easier....

4. People in open marriages are still judged....

5. However, some people in open marriages are really, well, open about it....

6. Sometimes a third partner can even live with the couple....

7. People in open marriages prize keeping their marriages "normal."...

8. Open marriages make them more open, sexually....

9. Open marriage is an option for people who crave differences in their marriage, but still want to be married....

10. Like any relationship, there are pros and cons....

The article (May 13).

Here's another Cosmo article that appeared a few days ago: 12 Ways Being in an Open Relationship Changes Your Sex Life (May 17). It's not bad.

● And from the shallow to the skeptical: A New York Post columnist writes Sorry, infidelity will never be normal or harmless (May 23):

By Karol Markowicz

...In the last week, Vice, New York magazine and, for some reason, Bride magazine have all opened up on open relationships....

The Times piece focused mostly on a couple named Elizabeth and Daniel. He asked her to open their marriage; she said no. Years later, she became attracted to another man and decided she was into the open marriage thing after all. Without discussing it with Daniel, Elizabeth started a full-on affair. When Daniel expressed pain over the arrangement, she refused to end it.

Sounds amazing. Why aren’t more people into this?

...That’s really the issue — with the Times piece and with open marriages in general. The consent makes it seem like it’s a victimless crime, but there always seems to be someone on the margins who either doesn’t know or isn’t strong enough to resist the arrangement, and ends up getting predictably hurt.

● And from the skeptical to the hostile: Conservatives were riled, as best expressed in the National Review's headline: This Is How the Elite Poisons Our Culture (May 12):

By David French

...They thrill to new love and discover more about themselves. They embrace the benefits of security and liberty, keeping a home for the kids while reserving weekends away for their affairs. Isn’t this at least one valid path for consenting adults? Shouldn’t more couples consider this lifestyle? Are we still too trapped by tradition and our own petty jealousies to live what could truly be our best lives?...

Their stories are both revolting and pathetic.

National Review also reprinted an article from Acculturated, by Ashley E. McGuire, which cluelessly confuses the topic with 19th-century Mormon polygamy: ‘Polyamory’ Is a Modern Name for a Backwards Practice (May 13).

...Which was pulled to pieces by Slate Star Codex (aka Scott Alexander): Polyamory Is Not Polygyny (May 17).

Wrote Juila Duin at Get Religion, 'Open marriage?' The New York Times Magazine hopes, hopes, hopes that it's a trend (May 12).

By Ed Straker at American Thinker: Can people be happy in an 'open' marriage? (May 12). "It's even good for the kids! What more can you ask for? ... The article makes it seem that women are more willing to satisfy their husband's needs when their own needs are being satisfied by someone else." [Well, yeah?]

On Newsbusters, by Matt Philbin: NY Times Magazine Swings for Open Marriage (May 11). "Wanna sleep around, but scared of wrecking your comfy marriage? No worries."

Jessica Burke at The Federalist: ‘Open Marriage’ Is Just Another Term For Adultery, And Just As Selfish (May 15). "If every unhappy couple got to interpret marriage to fit their fancies, we would have eliminated the institution millennia ago. ... Open marriage is no marriage, and that's the point."


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May 18, 2017

NYT: " ‘We Choose Each Other Over and Over Because We Want to’: Readers share their open-marriage stories"

When the New York Times Sunday Magazine ran its 12,000-word "Is an Open Marriage a Happier Marriage?" a few days ago, it asked readers to send in their own open-relationship stories for website publication. Today the Times posted a selection of them.

A number of you wrote to or phoned the author of the original article, Susan Dominus, to call out white-middle-class exclusivity. Or published about it online. I wonder if I hear a little defensiveness about that in the first line quoted in italics below.

‘We Choose Each Other Over and Over Because We Want to’: Readers Share Their Open-Marriage Stories

"The subjects from our May 14 cover, from left: Blake Wilson; Wilson's girlfriend, Zaeli Kane; Kane's husband, Joe Spurr; Spurr's girlfriend, Alexandra Kirkilis." Credit: Holly Andres for The New York Times


...In many ways, Dominus assumed the position of the average New York Times reader and approached the topic with skeptical curiosity: “The more I spoke to people in open relationships,” she wrote, “the more I wanted to know how they crossed a line into territory that seemed so thorny to their peers.” ...

We asked people to share their stories of engaging in open marriages and relationships and received more than 300 submissions. ...


Several readers shared how they carefully and deliberately opened their relationships. Despite the challenges of an open marriage, the couples felt strengthened by the decision to engage in outside relationships.

...After a little over a year of being together, our sex life fizzled. It was becoming such an issue that both of us considered ending things, but we didn’t bring it up because our partnership in all other facets of life was so strong.

About two years ago, we were approached by a friend interested in sharing a night with both of us, and we went for it. That led us down a path of actual conversation about the matter, how exciting that night had been for both of us and how unhappy both of us were with the state of our sexual relationship. We gradually opened our relationship.

This was not always an easy process. ... There are times when one or both of us needs to feel completely supported, and during those times we will close the relationship because we are each other’s most important person and we recognize that there are times when being open doesn’t make sense.

The most important thing this has done for us is remind us that we shouldn’t take each other for granted. Instead, we choose each other over and over because we want to, not because we are simply on autopilot.  Crystal A.


My wife and I are 80 and have had an open marriage for 40 years. It started when I had a “secret” relationship and has evolved over the years. I told my wife about a later relationship and suggested that we have an open marriage, never imagining that she would agree. But she did.

I have had one-night stands and relationships that lasted for years. She had several relationships that were very satisfying. It hasn’t all been a bed of roses, though. ... There have been jealousies, hurt feelings and times when one of us was in a relationship and the other was not. We told our children when they reached college age and they strongly disapproved. Still, I consider the decision to have an open marriage one of the best we have ever made.  Watson B.


A number of readers in open marriages came from religious backgrounds and had married young. As a result, they felt they had not been free to experiment sexually, and this feeling of deprivation led them to open their marriages.

My husband and I met when we were 17 and were both raised in strict evangelical homes. I had always known I was a little boy crazy. ... While I was deeply in love with the man soon to be my husband, I never stopped feeling attraction to others. We married at 21 and then slowly left the church.

I felt a part of my life had been stolen — the part where you explore your own sexuality with multiple people in your early 20s. My husband also knew he was bisexual, and that was something he had never followed through on....

...This first stage was a dizzying sexual adventure with many ups and downs, and we felt our primary connection was overwhelmingly strengthened by these other encounters. We learned to be more open with each other about our sexual needs, desires and kinks — something that our Christian background had always stifled within us.

While there have been problems, of course, and it is true that polyamorous lifestyles can sometimes require an exhausting degree of processing and communication, overall I feel like a more self-actualized and fulfilled person through the whole process, with so much love in my life. I guess in some ways I have the evangelical church to thank for all this.  Josie J.


I married my husband at 19. We have always had a successful marriage, working as a perfect team to build our adult lives together. Somewhere along the way, he confessed to me his desire for me to have sex or even flirt with other men....

Years later, at 27, I was a stay-at-home mom of two young children with no family in our state, few friends, a husband who worked out of town and crippling depression and anxiety. I loved my husband, but I had lost my spark. He once again suggested I date other people.... Then I met Joe and we fell in love.

Today, the three of us openly live together as a triad, raising our kids.... The combination has been interesting, challenging and beautiful.  Alicia W.


Other readers shared how opening up their heterosexual marriages finally allowed them to explore their bisexuality while remaining in a committed relationship.

As a young adult, I tried desperately to deny that I was gay. ... Coming out to my husband was the hardest thing I have ever done. ... He basically said: “I know you’re gay. I’m surprised it took you this long to admit it.”

...I ventured into the world of online dating, and he reconnected with an old girlfriend. That was four years ago, and we’re still going strong. Our marriage is solid, our kids are happy and we each have a romantic relationship outside our marriage that makes us happy. It’s an arrangement that works for us, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The combination has been interesting, challenging and beautiful.  —Kim M.


...It was actually he who first offered the idea of opening the marriage so that I could see other people (women, in particular)... I am now with a girlfriend I’ve been seeing for 6 months. My husband also eventually found himself someone whom he sees very casually. We’ve had ups and downs and miscommunication, but it has also absolutely strengthened and deepened our relationship with each other and with the people we see.  Emily M.


Finally, a group of readers had attempted an open relationship and wanted to share their negative experiences in order to present a more balanced view. Some argued that they still believed open marriages could work under the right circumstances, but could also lead to disaster when both partners aren’t on the same page.

I was in an open relationship in the past, during the 1970s, when people began to experiment with open marriages. My ex-husband and I were close friends with another couple; he fell in love with the wife first and wanted to open the marriage and have sex with this woman. Her husband felt “obligated” to then pursue a romantic relationship with me (he later told me). I loved them both so much that I complied — but I was also in my early 20s and incredibly naïve.

The foursome became emotionally complicated. We were all in therapy. Both marriages finally fell apart, and we and the other couple divorced. In the end, I felt betrayed by everyone and lost my best girlfriend. In retrospect, I felt the whole experiment was an elaborate ploy so that my ex could have sex with my best friend within the confines of marriage....  —Marissa P.


...In my case, after more than 10 years of marriage and two kids, my wife fell for someone else, and I agreed to open up the marriage.

In retrospect, I never really had a choice, and this was the beginning of the end of the marriage. The issue wasn’t possessiveness on my part. I embraced what I saw as an opportunity for growth. The problem was a lack of consideration on the part of my wife. She was going to do things her way with a total lack of control or regard for my need for some kind of boundary around her activities.

I still think that nonmonogamy can work, but it requires deep care and consideration for each person involved (including any children) and extreme maturity. Running off and ignoring adult responsibilities doesn’t work if you want to stay married....

I did learn about myself that I am fundamentally not a jealous person and that I am committed to the happiness of all concerned in my relationships. I also learned that my wife was not the kind of person I wanted to be married to.  —Michael B.

Read their full stories (May 18, 2017).



May 14, 2017

Representation, or not, in the New York Times' "Is an Open Marriage a Happier Marriage?"

This morning the Sunday New York Times landed on hundred of thousands of doorsteps, with its Times Magazine cover story "Is an Open Marriage a Happier Marriage?", which I posted about three days ago when it went online. Already it has drawn a lot of attention, including from the right wing ("This Is How the Elite Poisons Our Culture", says the National Review). I'll get to that soon.

But first, some of the people in the story and close to it have important perspectives on its failings, especially its narrowness.

Among the couples who were photographed — mostly made to look all too serious and somber — were black activist Kevin Patterson of Poly Role Models and his wife Antoinette. They've posted a response on Huff Post. Excerpts:

How Representation Works...or Doesn’t

By Kevin Patterson and Antoinette Crumby Patterson

Love in abundance: The couple in a more representative photo. 

In the early afternoon of Thursday May 11th, I got an email from a colleague. ... She congratulated me on my appearance in the New York Times. ... But before I had a chance to even read that email, I received a second one from the same colleague: “Oh my gosh, Kevin! I just read the article. You must be upset. I’m so sorry!” ...It pretty much encapsulated how the whole day went.

...Unfortunately, any perspective I could add [to the article] ... is buried beneath a sad story of floundering marriages. The sad story of floundering marriages [is] both valid and valuable. My work definitely covers that as well. But it covers more than that...and therein lies the problem.

"Is an Open Marriage a Happier Marriage?" is predominantly the story of a married couple, Elizabeth and Daniel, who have grown dissatisfied in their lives together. ... Daniel researched ethical non-monogamy and discussed it with his wife. What followed was not ethical non-monogamy....

Elizabeth shot the idea down. Only to find romance with a new fellow anyway. First, behind her husband’s back, then to his face without his willful participation...despite his pain. The guy Elizabeth took up with? He was also unhappily married and cheating on his spouse. ... Look, I’m not judging. ... Partners that come to ethical non-monogamy by way of infidelity needs to be discussed. These are already being discussed. In fact, the idea that ethical and consensual non-monogamy are just the product of unhappy marriages is already the predominant narrative. We’ve heard these stories before. They get pushed out to mainstream media every few months and frankly it’s gotten boring.

It’s clear that [author] Susan Dominus has a specific story that she is trying to tell. But I question who that really serves. The non-monogamous newcomers who don’t fit this couple-centric view won’t find any love here. ... The stable and happy couples featured [in the photos] are virtually voiceless in this article. What little speech we’re given is limited to seemingly reluctant acceptance of the situation we’ve found ourselves in.

...Why were our names and faces used... only to ignore our observations?

...Now, I’m not flat out saying that my wife and I are only included as token people of color. I am challenging anyone to show me what the difference would be if we were. Our voices are mostly unused, but our faces are pretty prominent in a photo that shocked the people in our lives. One friend said it is the saddest they’ve ever seen either of us look. Another said that, without context, they would’ve believed all of the photos to be from a story about divorce. A visual storyline to match the narrative of non-exclusive but unsatisfying marriages.

...We don’t need to be made into a compelling story. We already are. The story isn’t how we exist, it’s that we exist. All we need to do is open our mouths to speak our own truths. When someone on the outside of us attempts to speak for us, regardless of the platform, they carry in their preconceived notions...and worse they carry their desire to shoehorn us into those notions. While I thank and appreciate the New York Times for trying, what they gave us was not nearly what was promised or expected or needed.

But, hey… I guess it could be worse. At least there weren’t any stock photos of three pairs of white feet sticking out from under a white duvet.

Kevin Patterson may be contacted at polyrolemodels@gmail.com

Go read his whole article (May 13, 2017).

● Their piece was hosted by Ruby Bouie Johnson, organizer of the PolyDallas Millennium conference. She posted her own response to the Times. Excerpts:

What the New York Times Neglected To See

Chase and Ruby Johnson

As a Black American therapist who serves clients that practice polyamory, and as someone who practices polyamory myself, I looked forward to the publication of the NY Times article, “Is an open marriage a happier marriage?” There is a common contrived narrative about consensual nonmonogamy that is pervasive in mass media representations, but I had high hopes that the article would disrupt the trend. I knew several colleagues and friends who do not fit the typical mold were interviewed for it.

...I instead discovered that the author presented a pigeonholed, whitewashed, homogeneous experience as the whole of polyamory. ... Within the professional and personal communities I belong to, there has been much discussion about these simplifications. When I refer to whitewashing, what I mean is that the representation of what is the norm for polyamory is 30-somethings, affluent, white, thin, triad. Most often two women and one guy. ... 
White, cisgender, and heterosexual are far from the only demographic that are practicing open relationships. Research into polyamorous relationships and my own experience show a wide variety of diversity within the community. Those who practice polyamory are more likely to be sexually fluid, they often have children and strong co-parenting relationships with multiple people, they have all shapes and sizes of bodies, belong to every race. The media representation of open relationships ... is actually concealing more about the reality than it reveals....

There is a phenomenal depth of experience, an unimaginable range of stories, within polyamorous communities. I know quads that have been together for 40 years. I know people who prefer to live alone and spend time at various lovers’ and partners’ homes when they choose. The article did not offer any language that spoke of this diversity in the structure of relationships, from solo poly, to vees, triads, quads, tribes, families, polycules. All we saw was couples and friends with benefits.

...For African-American communities, the language is different. It’s about the village, it’s about the family. It’s about sexual fluidity that is celebrated and liberated. It is about decolonizing and reclaiming what was historically, traditionally, their culture, before it was stripped from them by the Middle Passage. ...

Go read her whole article (May 12, 2017).

Update May 15: The author of the NYT article, Susan Dominus, has put up a reddit page for questions and feedback about it.


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May 11, 2017

NY Times Magazine cover story: "Is an Open Marriage a Happier Marriage?"

Zaeli Kane and Joe Spurr. (Photo: Holly Andres / NYT)
An enormous, 12,000-word feature with the title above will be the cover story of this Sunday's New York Times Magazine. It went online this morning.

Open Love NY has been waiting for this piece for a long time. Two weeks ago Mischa Lin, past president of OLNY, wrote to the Polyamory Leadership Network that author Susan Dominus "has been working on this story on and off for more than a year, following couples in the northeast, and it's going to be the longest story she's ever worked on. She brought one of the couples to Poly Cocktails [run by OLNY] last year. There was a supporting video featuring four people that was shot in San Francisco, and the cover photo is being shot on Friday in Austin, Texas.

"Those of you speaking to the media may want to piggyback on the coverage for your own stories with local outlets."

The article is not just prominent and massive, it is damn good for what it does. It'll probably become the go-to article for conventional couples facing the question of having an open marriage.

Some of the poly community, however, is responding more critically — regarding the mostly glum photos, minority non-inclusiveness, couple-centricism, and the fact that in an article about "happier marriage," the woman in its central couple got involved with a man secretly cheating on his wife. More on all this below.

Meanwhile, excerpts:

Is an Open Marriage a Happier Marriage?

What the experiences of nonmonogamous couples can tell us about jealousy, love, desire and trust.


...Occasionally, when he... felt some vital part of himself dwindling, Daniel would think about a radical possibility: opening up their marriage to other relationships. He would poke around on the internet and read about other couples’ arrangements. It was both an outlandish idea and, to him, a totally rational one. He eventually even wrote about it in 2009 for a friend who had a blog about sexuality. “As our culture becomes more accepting of choices outside the norm, nonmonogamy will expand as an acceptable choice, and the world will have to change as a result,” he predicted.

He was in his late 30s when he decided to broach the subject with Elizabeth gingerly....

...One seismic shift in a marriage often drives another. In the fall of 2015, Elizabeth met a man at a Parkinson’s fund-raiser. Joseph had symptoms similar to Elizabeth’s and also felt he was in his prime. (Daniel, Elizabeth and Joseph requested that their middle names be used and did not want to be photographed to protect their and their children’s privacy.) He asked her to tea once, and then a second time. They understood something profound about each other but also barely knew each other, which allowed for a lightness between them, pure fun in the face of everything. They met once more, and that afternoon, in the parking lot, he kissed her beside his car, someone else’s mouth on hers for the first time in 24 years. It did not occur to her to resist. Hadn’t Daniel wanted an open marriage?

...For several nights following that therapy session, they talked in their bedroom, with an attention they had not given each other in years, sitting on the strip of rug between the foot of their bed and the wall. The sex, too, was different, more varied, as if reflecting the inventing going on in their marriage. Elizabeth was still someone’s wife, still her children’s mother, but now she was also somebody’s girlfriend, desired and desiring; now her own marriage was also new to her.

...Daniel said he was past the point of fear. “Basically you could say maybe we loved each other before all this — but maybe we were just asleep. And maybe being asleep is more dangerous and worse to you as a person than what’s going on right now.”

Antoinette & Kevin Patterson. (Photo: Holly Andres / NYT)
...I met Elizabeth and Daniel through Tammy Nelson, a sex and couples therapist in New Haven ... She thought of the phenomenon as “the new monogamy,” which became the title of a book she published in 2012. “The new monogamy is, baldly speaking, the recognition that, for an increasing number of couples, marital attachment involves a more fluid idea of connection to the primary partner than is true of the ‘old monogamy.’ ”

...Terms have long existed for arrangements similar to those she was seeing — they could fall under the category of polyamory, which involves more than one loving relationship, or the more all-encompassing term, consensual nonmonogamy, which also includes more casual sex outside of marriage or a relationship. (The use of each term implies full knowledge of all parties.) But most of the couples she was seeing did not feel the need to name what they were doing at all. “Most people don’t like the word ‘polyamorous,’ ” Nelson told me. “It’s not easy to say; it sounds a little French, with all respect to the French.”

If pressed to find language, the couples might have said they were in open marriages, a phrase first popularized in 1972, with the publication of “Open Marriage: A New Life Style for Couples,” by Nena and George O’Neill. The book, which focused mostly on emotional openness, became a best seller, most likely because of a concept it introduced in three pages toward the end. “We are not recommending outside sex,” the authors wrote, “but we are not saying that it should be avoided, either.”


And yet open marriages — and to a lesser degree open but nonmarital committed relationships — are still considered so taboo that many of the people I interviewed over the last year resisted giving their names, for fear of social disapprobation and of jeopardizing their jobs. It is no surprise that most conservatives would perceive the concept as a degradation of marriage, of a key foundation of society. But even among progressives I talked to, the subject typically provoked a curled lip or a slack jaw. The thought bubble, or expressed thought: How?...

Married for 14 years, I felt that same visceral resistance, an emotion so strong it made me curious to understand how others were wholly free of it, or managed to move past it. ... I interviewed more than 50 members of open marriages, some of them a dozen or more times.


...Daniel assessed his wife’s boyfriend and decided with a defensive dismissiveness that he was “not a threat.” The conversation stayed light, the encounter ended without incident and then Daniel and Elizabeth went home and had sex: Reclamation sex, as it is sometimes called among the polyamorous.

Daniel had started to think of episodes like this one as part of a new marital order he called Bizarro World. Bizarro World, Scene 1: His wife taking photographs of him to post on his OkCupid profile. Scene 2: He reaches under his pillow on a night when his wife is with her boyfriend and finds a note she has left, knowing his hand would slide precisely there. He opens it up to see a picture of a heart, with their names written inside, a plus sign between them. Scene 3: One night, close to bedtime, Daniel and Elizabeth explain the concept of polyamory to their two teenage children and tell them that although their mother is seeing someone, the marriage is still strong. Their son, who is 17, sounds almost proud of them for doing something so alternative. Their daughter, who is 15, takes it in more quietly, uncomfortably. She is just relieved, she tells them, that they are not fighting anymore.

...And yet Daniel still felt conflicted about how the arrangement had started and all that it asked of him. In June, he sat down and made a document he called Bizarro World Benefits and Drawbacks.

...Elizabeth encouraged Daniel to invest more effort in meeting someone. She wanted the marriage to feel balanced, and she also wanted him to experience what she was feeling — that new relationship energy (for polyamorists, that is another technical term, frequently abbreviated as N.R.E.).

...These rules are often designed to manage jealousy. Most monogamous couples labor to avoid that emotion at all costs; but for the philosophically polyamorous, jealousy presents an opportunity to examine the insecurities that opening a relationships lays bare. Jealousy is not a primal impulse to be trusted because it feels so powerful; it is an emotion worth investigating.

Popular evolutionary psychology holds that jealousy is innate, a biological imperative that evolved to guarantee watchful, possessive males some certainty of their offspring’s paternity. Polyamorists would argue, as would others, that humans are capable of overriding that system with rational discourse. But many of them reject that version of evolutionary biology altogether, citing the work of Chris Ryan and Cacilda Jethá, co-authors of “Sex at Dawn.”

...In her book “What Love Is,” published this year, Carrie Jenkins, a professor of philosophy at the University of British Columbia who is married and has a longstanding boyfriend, questions the likelihood that humans, en masse, were built for any one mode of child rearing or sexual partnering, including, as she puts it, the “hippie commune” model that Ryan envisions. “...We we are a diverse and adaptive species, so what we should predict is a suite of biological mechanisms that would allow diverse approaches to that challenge of raising children. Flexibility is what is distinctive about us as humans.”

...In August, Elizabeth and Daniel made a road trip to a Lower East Side bar in New York to attend Poly Cocktails, a monthly event founded in 2007 for people who are interested in nonmonogamy, or practicing it. At the event, Elizabeth and Daniel felt overwhelmed, a little out of place. Over the course of the evening, about 300 people, a diverse crowd, packed into the rooftop bar, most of them, it seemed to Elizabeth and Daniel, younger than they were. A woman in cat’s-eye glasses and straight dark hair sat on another woman’s lap; the woman with glasses turned out to be one-half of a married heterosexual couple from Westchester. A 31-year-old man with his hair in a bun sat close to his beautiful girlfriend. Everyone seemed to know one veteran polyamorist: a 64-year-old man with a long, white braid. [Hi there Buck! –Ed.]  For the most part, the socializing was studiously nonsexual, but a young woman with a retro look — red lipstick, baby-doll dress — was flirting with a tall man in a sleeveless T-shirt, a 45-year-old dad from brownstone Brooklyn, a musician with a corporate day job. His wife looked on, amused, as she waited for a drink at the bar.

...Dating, I started to think, as Daniel told me about talking to his companion, is wasted on the young and the single.

...Later, when he thought back on the evening, he thought less about the sex than about the easiness that there was between them afterward. They had that conversation people often have after confirming a suspected mutual attraction with actual sexual intimacy — the “when did you know?” conversation, the one that shines a spotlight on your sense of being chosen. ... And Daniel found himself reminiscing about the first time he met Elizabeth, early in his career, and how she looked so strangely bathed in a bright light at that moment, as if the universe was trying to make something clear to him.

“And we’re just having a normal chat, and I’m telling her how I feel about my wife, which in retrospect could have been really stupid,” Daniel told me. “But that I could share my love for my wife with her, and not have that takeaway from the experience, or even be awkward, even though she’s naked, lying on top of me — I really felt like it was kind of beautiful. And it struck me that she could have gone to this other place, and been insulted, ‘How dare you talk about that, you have me here now.’ But instead, she kind of saw it as a beautiful thing, too.”

...Conventional wisdom has it that men are more likely than women to crave, even need, variety in their sex lives. But of the 25 couples I encountered, a majority of the relationships were opened at the initiation of the women; only in six cases had it been the men. ...

...Forging new relationships was complicated, at first, and bruising: Could they go without a condom, if everyone tested clean and the relationship seemed to have potential? Could one spouse’s partner veto the other spouse’s new love interest, if that person had an S.T.D.?

Tim, after a few false starts, started dating a married woman, a former minister, whose husband also had a serious ongoing partner. He is six years into the relationship with her now, and the four of them — Tim, his girlfriend, her husband and her husband’s girlfriend — sometimes have drinks. His girlfriend is important enough to him that most of his and Luce’s close friends and neighbors have met her and understand her role in their lives. Their children are 10 and 14; they have grown up knowing, as Tim put it, “that their parents are a little bit different.”

There may be people who are more inclined toward monogamy or polyamory than others, who may even, at least one study shows, have some genetic predisposition toward one or the other. Tim seems to be a case study in adaptability, someone who never even considered, much less longed for, the option until his wife brought it up; he has since found the arrangement suits him.

[Psychoanalyst Stephen] Mitchell’s book, as well as “Mating in Captivity,” Esther Perel’s 2006 exploration of similar issues, suggests that the kind of marriage most people seek — secure, mutually desirous — is a precarious, elusive construct. Perel, whose forthcoming book is titled “The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity,” has become interested in the emotional growth that comes from having different partners. In the book, she writes that “so often the most intoxicating other that people discover in the affair is not a new partner; it’s a new self.”

...As I talked to couples over the last year, I often found myself reflecting back on my own marriage. I started to feel less baffled by the boldness they were showing in opening up their marriages, and more questioning of my own total aversion to the possibility. ... I felt, at times, that I was a rusty caliper, trying to take the measurement of some kind of advanced nanotechnology. ... Where I read humiliation into a situation, the people I was interviewing saw a kind of expansive love that defied pride, possessiveness, traditional notions of masculinity and ownership. I kept wanting to define terms — but who is your primary? Whom would you choose in the event of conflicting needs? My instructors were patient but resolute in their overarching easygoingness: It works out, and when it does not, we talk about it and are better for it.

Open marriages, I started to think, are not just for people who were more interested in sex, but also for people who were more interested in people...


...And then, just over a year after Zaeli first met Blake, when Zaeli and Joe were planning to move to a new home in Austin, they discarded the one rule that had governed their nonmonogamy and invited Blake to move in with them and their daughter, who is now 3. For Zaeli, nonmonogamy was also an antidote to the atomization of families, to the loneliness of how people live. “People think of this as a home-wrecking. But this can be a nice family structure.”

I thought that by the time I met Joe and Zaeli and Blake in February at their home in Austin that I had become used to the idea of openness. But from the moment I entered their house, I did not know where to look. Joe, warm and outgoing, greeted me at the door, making small talk I could barely engage in, as his wife and Blake were, at that moment, nuzzling by the stove, reunited after having been apart for most of the day. We sat down to dinner, Blake ushering their daughter — Joe and Zaeli’s daughter, biologically, but one Blake was helping to raise as part of the family — to the table. Blake does more day-to-day caregiving of Joe’s child than Joe does, given his more relaxed work hours, and Blake also does most of the cooking. That night, he made a Thai chicken soup for dinner.

As we ate, Zaeli recalled first meeting Blake. “I could just tell with him, that it wasn’t just, this will be a guy that I hang with. It was more like, ‘Oh, I’ve found you,’ that whole thing.” ... I watched Joe take it all in, his daughter on his lap; he was playing with some tiny balls of Play-Doh that she had left on the table and was flattening them out, shaping them into one big heart. The conversation wore on, but I eventually admitted to them what they already knew, which was that this was all strange, maybe even hard, for me to witness — Blake kissing Zaeli in front of Joe, the two of them recalling how they fell in love. ...

Susan Dominus is a staff writer for The New York Times Magazine who often writes about family and culture.

Read the whole article (online May 11, 2017; to appear in the May 14 print issue).

● Near the top of the article is box where you can send in your own open-relationship story, for possible publication online. It says,

Are you currently in an open relationship, or have you been in one in the past? Share your story with us. A select group of responses will be published on nytimes.com.

● The poly world is abuzz with reaction to the article, some of it displeased. Aside from the cover photo, the portraits inside are uniformly somber, "verging on making everyone involved seem extremely unhappy," comments Kira An. "There's no variety at all in the character/mood. You're not actually exploring the question or leaving it up to interpretation if all of the images scream "WE ARE STRUGGLING AND SAD AND HURT."

And some of the people in the portraits get very little say in the article. Kevin and Antoinette Patterson, for instance. I was expecting a lot about Kevin — he's brilliant and articulate and has quite a personal story, he runs Poly Role Models, and he's a leading spokesperson for awareness of racial issues in the white-at-birth poly movement. Not only was this omitted, there's that picture of the two of them. I hardly recognized him. "We took sooooo many pictures," he says of the photo shoot. "I can't believe that the single image they chose was the best of the bunch. We didn't look happy at all. The ones we took in our living room were full of smiles and laughter."

Comments Open Love NY president Chrissy Raymond Holman, "They did the same with the gay couple too. One line. One sad pic."

Then again, the author did say she interviewed 50 people.

Join the discussion on FB, reddit/r/polyamory, etc.

Here's the New York Times Facebook post for the article, accruing comments by the bushel. Find the thread there started by the reporter, Susan Dominus; she asks for and responds to questions about the writing of the piece.

Update May 15: The author of the NYT article, Susan Dominus, has put up a reddit page for questions and feedback about it.



May 6, 2017

Women's mag editor: "My BF Getting Another Woman Pregnant Was The Best Thing To Happen To Us"

The women's relationship site YourTango ("the leading online magazine dedicated to love and relationships," claiming 11 million monthly visitors) has been running lots of positive pieces on polyamory, including six of them in the last six days. Here are its 144 articles that come up with a "polyamory" search. Okay, yeah, they're often clickbaity.

Maybe this is happening because one of the editors, Rebecca Jane Stokes, became poly herself in the last year. She just wrote about a development in her life that would have exploded a lot of other relationships:

My BF Getting Another Woman Pregnant Was The Best Thing To Happen To Us

By Rebecca Jane Stokes

"We're trying to get pregnant."

I had been dating my boyfriend Rob for about a week when he made this pronouncement.

"Okay," I said as we walked down a street in his neighborhood.

...Rob has never been anything other than totally upfront about his life. He is divorced, he is a dad to an autistic son, he survived a heart attack, and he is in a seven-year polyamorous relationship with his girlfriend.

The guy was supposed to be my rebound, not my polyamorous boyfriend. I met him just a week after having my heart broken by my last boyfriend. I swore to myself that I wasn't going to leap into another relationship. I just wanted to hook up, play the field, something that I (a serial monogamist) have never done before.

Now here we are a year later, still together, and he and his other girlfriend are expecting a baby in July.

I'm starting to actually believe that we are going to make this weird, polyamorous way of life work.

...To be happy in a polyamorous relationship, you have to be direct and open and honest. You also have to know how to listen.

When his girlfriend got pregnant, although we had been dating for months, that's when I really started to feel like I was a person in a serious polyamorous relationship. That's because her pregnancy forced me to stop holding back emotionally. If I wanted to stay in the relationship and be happy (two things I really wanted) I needed to share my fears. I needed to show my cards and trust that my vulnerability wouldn't be our undoing.

And it wasn't. It hasn't been. We hit, well, not rough patches, but lulls where we take each other for granted, but we don't stay that way long. We challenge each other. We talk about everything. I'm no longer quite so scared about the future. And if they weren't expecting a baby in July, I don't know that we ever would have made it this far.

The original (May 5, 2017).


May 4, 2017

Australian TV: "How do you decide who sleeps with who?"

While we're on about poly news on mainstream TV — Australia's national TV network ABC ran a 17-minute polyamory segment on its popular series "You Can't Ask That," in which guests take awkward or taboo questions about themselves from viewers.

It aired last August and was unviewable outside Australia, but now it's up on YouTube for the world. It's a hoot:

The blurb:

Polyamorous Australians, people in a relationship with multiple partners, answer the questions Australians wanted to ask but were too embarrassed or afraid to ever ask in person.

And here's the faster-paced, 2-minute promo, in case the full video goes away again.

Two of the people we see are Australian poly pioneer Anne Hunter (with the dark curly hair) and her life partner. She wrote after the show aired, "We're relatively happy with the result." I think they ought to be.

BTW, here's a newspaper profile of her and her partners: Boomers with benefits: a free love revolution with no rings attached (Sept. 8, 2015), with pic:


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May 3, 2017

Video: Triad couple divorce so one can remarry their third, making them all legal parents for their kids

Barcroft Media, a UK company that produces video content for media outlets worldwide, has issued a dazzling 4-minute video that's now making the rounds. You could hardly imagine a happier promo for the possibility of finding a unicorn at the end of the rainbow. But here's the kicker: the couple who found her are throwing off their couple privilege in the most radical, legally binding way.

The blurb:

WHEN Cristina and Benno exchanged wedding vows, they never expected another woman would end their marriage. But 12 years later, the parents of three are getting divorced — so that their GIRLFRIEND won’t get jealous. Now either Cristina or Benno Kaiser will marry their 21-year-old lover, Sierra Kuntz, so that all three will have legal rights to their children.

Direct link to video (April 25, 2017). It's currently on Yahoo News, MSN, Barcroft Rumble, the UK's tabloid Sun (with lots of pictures), and a zillion other sites.

Remember, there is no piece of conventional poly wisdom that some people, somewhere, are not breaking successfully.

Here's the text that Barcroft supplies with the video, as it appears on the Sun's site:

Cristina Kaiser, 31, or her husband Benno, 37, will marry their 21-year-old lover, Sierra Kuntz, so that all three will have legal rights to their children

By Sarah Barns

WHEN Cristina and Benno Kaiser exchanged their wedding vows, they never expected another woman would end their marriage.

But 12 years later, the parents of three are getting divorced — so that their girlfriend won’t get jealous.

Benno, a legal assistant, said: “Cristina and I decided this was something that needed to be done in order for Sierra to understand the depth of how much we love her and want her to be part of our family.

Sierra, Benno, and Cristina
“The benefits of one of us marrying her are going to be on many different levels. She is going to be legally considered a parent to the children and, more importantly, it will show her that this is not a temporary thing, we both love her and it’s something that’s meant to be permanent.”

Cristina and Benno met in 2005 when they were both serving in the US military police.

They married four months later, and a year into their marriage they had their first child, Isaiah, now 11, and later, Rebecca, seven, and Brianna, six.

But eventually Cristina, who is bisexual, began to feel as though something was missing from her love life.

Cristina, also a legal assistant, said: “Initially, it was my idea to open the marriage. I brought it to Benno’s attention and told him I would like to introduce women to our relationship to see where it goes.

“Other than that, we had everything going for us. Three kids, a great relationship, and adding Sierra into our lives has just made it a hundred times better, I feel like I’m complete.”

The trio say their three children are happy with their unconventional setup.

Cristina met Sierra at a local shopping centre in Las Vegas. They went on a few dates and to Cristina’s delight, Sierra was willing to join her marriage.

Sierra said: “At first I was very hesitant about getting involved with a married couple. I was worried that I would be disposable and that this was a phase they were going through.

“But when I spent time with them I realised what they wanted and felt this was a situation I could work with, so I jumped on board.”

The relationship progressed and the three decided to take the next step in their ‘three-lationship’.

Benno said: “Sara and Cristina and I all clicked and — shortly after our first date — we knew that we were meant to be with her and that this was something we wanted to pursue.

“It was just the natural course to take — to have her move into the home.

“My feelings for the both are equal. I love them both without question. They are both very much part of my life and I couldn’t imagine living my life without either of them.”

And Benno says that the sexual side of the relationship is also equal — and adventurous. “We share a bed together, we share everything together, so since we met Sierra we have not had a night that we don’t all involve each other in some sort of sexual activity.

“It’s busy. There are lots of hands everywhere. The beauty of what we do is that we can have a very active sexual life and it’s completely safe and it’s with people that we love. I don’t ever have to worry about having a boring sex life 20 years from now when other couples or monogamous couples are. We have a lot of intimacy between all three of us.”

Since moving into the family home, Sierra has become the main caregiver for the trio’s children, staying at home while Benno and Cristina go out to work.

Benno said: “We had talked to our children before this and let them know we wanted to adopt someone and bring somebody into our relationship. Our children have been very supportive of this. They have understood.”

Now Sierra says she feels as much a mother to the children as Cristina, and the children even call her ‘mommy’. “I’m not jealous that the children are not biologically related to me at all. Just because I didn’t birth them doesn’t mean I can’t love them and they can’t love me. That doesn’t hinder my love at all for them.”

The trio admit they have problems like any other relationship.

Sierra said: “There is really not jealousy in our relationship. Sometimes we have a hard time communicating because there are three people instead of two, but we always work through it.”

Benno added: “We have always been the best in every situation and we always work through our problems. Everything is equal, so there is nothing to be jealous of. We are very happy with all three of us together.”

He added: “This lifestyle isn’t for everyone. There are a lot of people that are monogamous and are happy with just being with one person and that’s completely fine.

“Every one of us is different. But before you judge, take a look at our lives and see the benefit of it. I couldn’t imagine my life any other way.”

Update: In the reddit/r/polyamory comments about this post, people discuss whether divorcing and remarrying expands or reduces parental rights, and whether you can "just form an LLC" instead. As always, consult a lawyer in your state about a serious legal matter like this.


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May 2, 2017

Poly trio shines on Houston TV news

KRIV Fox-26 TV

John, Kat, and Parks

This popped up last night on local TV news in Houston, with no apparent news hook — it's just a nice, educational, 4-minute human-interest piece. Does somebody know how it came about? Did local poly organizers approach the station, or did the station come looking for them?

It reminds me of the "wow-look-at-these-people" pieces that were typical of poly on local TV news five or ten years ago — complete with commentary by the obligatory therapist, though this one is poly herself and knows what she's talking about. The producers seem to assume that typical viewers have not been exposed to the "polyamorous possibility" before. In Houston maybe that's true?

The station posted a Flash video of the segment, but it fails on one of my computers because "not signed by a valid security certificate." So here's a direct link to the mp4 file (thanks for finding it, Scott). I'm leaving the Flash embedded here in case it works for you:

The text article on the station's site is basically a transcript of the audio:

Practicing Polyamory: A trio explains their relationship

By Angela Chen

We are born into a land of fairytales -- of soulmates, of ever after, of the one true love.

But what if you're not meant to have one true love? What if it were entirely possible to be in love with one, or two, or even three people at the same time?

This is the foundation behind polyamory.

“It's ethical non-monogamy. Your partners all know each other or your partners at least know that you're exploring the other side with consent,” said Samar Poorlakani, a sex therapist.

"Polygamy, of course, is being married to more than one person, and polyamory is just an open, honest, ethical, romantic partnership with more than one person at the same time, that's it,” said Parks Hubbard.

John, Kat, and Parks have been in a polyamorous relationship for years -- but it's not a three-way deal. Kat is what is called a hinge. She has two boyfriends, John and Parks, but John and Parks are not in a romantic relationship -- though the three of them do often hang out together.

“We go out to dinner, the three of us, and it's fun trying to watch the waiter figure out who is dating and who is not and being completely unable to,” said John Walter.

They say to have a successful polyamorous relationship, you have to be entirely secure with yourself to see your significant other with another lover -- lest the green-eyed monster rears its head.

Perhaps, they say, society can't accept polyamory because on some level, it values jealousy.

“If you're at a bar and somebody ogles your girl you're expected to overreact, to overcompensate and to act jealous because it shows that you actually care about that person, and, in fact, if you don't do that, you must not care about that person,” said John.

To the traditionalists, they say:

“So a lot of people will make the argument, ‘Well, how do you love more than one person? Are you diluting it? Wouldn't it be better if you used it all on one person and then had the deepest possible relationship that you can have?’ The counterargument would be, ‘Well, do you have capacity to love more than one of your family members? And when you get a new family member, do you start diluting the love?’" said Kat.

“Poly, the term means, specifically, the capacity to love multiple people,” said Poorlakani.

Samar Poorlakani is a sex therapist who specializes in polyamory.

“I often see clients who have a wife and a girlfriend or a husband and boyfriend. I have clients that are in triads, where all three people are dating each other,” said Poorlakani.

Poorlakani estimates that 20 percent of Americans have at one point in their life -- dated multiple people at once -- and therefore -- are aware you can have feelings for multiple people at the same time.

Poorlakani is poly herself.

“There’s this term that every poly person knows and it's 'compersion'. It's being happy for your partner. So let's say one of my partners found another girlfriend or boyfriend, or what have you. If they found happiness with another person, I would be happy for them, and that's compersion,” said Poorlakani.

This trio says they often feel compersion and don't believe having multiple partners is greedy.

“I would argue that wouldn't it be greedier to own a single person totally and limit all possible romantic relationships for the remainder of their life?” said Kat.

“Communication is crucial, and that's one of the strengths of polyamory, in general, is it forces people to talk extensively to gain consent for all manners of the relationship. So yeah, you're right, communication is key,” said Parks.

“Sometimes, compromises happen. Someone has to wait,” said Kat.

The original (May 1, 2017). The comments, not even counting the ugly ones, make clear that every one of these basic media pieces, which may seem like old hat to us, still awaken new people to the fact that happy multi-love relationships even exist.


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