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



March 26, 2016

An Israeli newspaper looks at poly


One flower, by Assaf Benharroch
The liberal Israeli newspaper Haaretz just ran a long think-piece titled Polyamory: A product of deprivation or the cure for a monogamous rut? The subheading:


Polyamory means 'a multiplicity of loves,' and its aim is to overcome monogamous routine without resorting to lies and cheating. Who are the people drawn to this practice, and why are women are the ones leading the charge?


The article, by Gabriel Bukobza, was public when I read it yesterday but now it's behind a paywall. It was long rumination (called a "thumb sucker" in the newspaper biz) based on the author meeting people in Israel's poly community. The author found two distinct branches of the community: fluid young people of evenly mixed gender, and an older cohort of marrieds in their 30s and 40s in which women stand out as leaders and advocates. Much like in North America and Europe.

The author ruminated further about how this way of life brings more love and community, and addresses the boxed-in staleness that's the fate of most married couples. But, she says (as I recall), it has a certain superficiality that's doesn't match long-term monogamy. This she ties to people having been deprived of secure bonds with their parents in childhood, or something. She's a psychologist.

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March 25, 2016

Elle: "​Polyamory Made My Marriage Better — and It Might Make My Divorce Better, Too"


The women's magazine Elle posts a story today with a title that sounds snarky, but totally isn't:


Polyamory Made My Marriage Better — and It Might Make My Divorce Better, Too

What non-monogamy has taught me about "moving apart without blame."​

By Arielle Greenberg

A few years ago, my husband, Rob, and I converted our traditional marriage to a polyamorous one. It's been remarkably smooth. We're very happy with our choice. And yet eventually we'll probably divorce. Does this mean that polyamory failed us? Not at all.

The author and her husband
on their wedding day.
Like many of our generation, Rob and I are children of divorce, and so when we got married a dozen years ago, we designed a quasi-Buddhist ceremony that made room for the concept of anicca, or impermanence. We wrote our own vows and left out the "until death do we part" and "forsaking all others" stuff: Instead, we spoke about the inevitability of change and pledged to support one another as we continued to evolve.

We meant it, but we had no idea what that might look like. We didn't anticipate that our evolution could involve the desire for sex and relationships with other people.

...After we finished having babies, we looked around and realized that although many things about our marriage were stellar — close friendship, mutual support and admiration, compatible co-parenting — we weren't ideal for one another sexually. We never really had been. Our libidos don't match; I'm more "sex motivated" of the two of us. Our relationship had thrived despite a lack of romantic chemistry.

This is not an unusual revelation, of course, and in most marriages, it results in screaming matches, or swallowed resentment, or affairs conducted amidst lies and betrayals. But Rob and I didn't see our "problem" that way — we didn't even really see it as a problem. We saw it as a reality, and an opportunity for positive change. We became poly....

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

For the last few years, most days at my house look like this: my partner Mike, who lives with us, helps me with dinner while Rob tends to the kids. We all eat together, and then Mike and I put the kids to bed while Rob texts a woman he's met on OKCupid. Once the kids are down, the three of us sit on the couch for a movie and a cup of tea. Sometimes Rob stays home with the kids while Mike and I go out dancing. Sometimes Mike and I stay home while Rob travels for work or goes on a date. Sometimes Mike and I take the kids camping and Rob spends the weekend combing bookstores. Sometimes Mike and Rob watch football together while I volunteer. Sometimes we all take a family vacation together.

It helps that both these men are tidy Cancers who share a love for progressive politics and sports blogs; they are also guys who have always enjoyed living with male friends.

Our arrangement wouldn't work for everyone....


Read on (March 25, 2016). "Arielle Greenberg is a poet and writer who lives in Maine; her book of personal micro-essays about style, shopping, and feminism, Locally Made Panties, comes out this spring."

Update: The mainstream women's magazine Marie Claire has posted the article on its site (March 28).

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March 23, 2016

Poly review of You Me Her


The three stars of "You Me Her"
From left to right, Emma (Rachel Blanchard), Jack (Greg Poehler)
and Izzy (Priscilla Faia), as Izzy plays with a lock of Emma's hair.

At the SXSW festival a couple weeks ago, poly journalist and activist Kit O'Connell previewed the first two episodes of You Me Her, the self-described "polyromantic" sitcom that debuted on DirecTV last night. And he talked to its writer. He's posted a long, thoughtful review from a poly-community perspective. Excerpts:


You Me Her: ‘Be Careful What You Wish For.’ And Polyamory On TV.

By Kit O'Connell

“Be careful what you wish for,” declared Greg Poehler during the SXSW audience Q&A for “You Me Her”...

He was describing the reaction of Jack, the character he plays in the show, to discovering that his wife is bisexual.... But he could also be describing my reaction to the news that a sitcom centered around polyamory was coming to the airwaves. My trepidation was compounded by the fact that there seemed to be very little information on the show online... and even further when the show’s publicity team seemed reluctant to grant me access to their talent at SXSW.

...The quick version:

“You Me Her” doesn’t get everything right, but it represents an important “baby step” toward seeing alternative relationships and ethical non-monogamy represented on TV.

If you’re concerned about spoilers, I’ve mostly contained them to the next section, and tried to keep them to a minimum after that.

The basics: Izzy meets Jack & Emma

Jack and Emma (Rachel Blanchard), a cisgendered, upper middle class white couple living in a suburban Portland neighborhood, stopped having sex after they couldn’t conceive a baby. Even worse, they’ve stopped being intimate altogether.... One day, Jack’s brother Gabe (Kevin O’Grady, charmingly boorish) confesses that he hired an escort, and the experience reinvigorated his sex life with his wife. So Jack finds Izzy (Priscilla Faia) on the Internet, and makes a date.... On Izzy’s date with Jack, a long, drunken conversation turns into an over-heated make-out session before a guilt-stricken Jack pushes her away and runs home to confess to his wife.

Emma hires Izzy the next day with the intention of confronting her. She’s not as much angry as curious: she wants to understand why Jack likes this woman. She discovers Izzy is a smart, sexy, likable woman — especially likable after Izzy gives Emma a foot job under the table at a shadowy pub where they meet, then the pair make out in the bathroom.

The first episode ends as Jack and Emma have passionate sex before Jack confesses that he briefly saw Izzy again to say goodbye, and Emma confesses that she more than saw Izzy, and that she’s bisexual.

The second episode aired at SXSW reveals the aftermath of that night and those first encounters. Izzy is clearly emotionally entangled with the couple already, and struggles to pay attention to her nominal boyfriend, Andy (Jarod Joseph). Jack and Emma are enjoying the afterglow and their fantasies of another encounter, while at the same time struggling to understand what it means for their marriage and their lifestyle....

The good and bad of ‘You Me Her’

...I’m more concerned by how reductive Izzy’s character seems in the first two episodes, despite being a “progressive” depiction in the media. Although she’s no “Pretty Woman,” she’s being perfectly set up to be rescued from reluctant sex work by Jack and Emma....

Overall, the show depicts the simplest, most vanilla, most non-threatening to the status quo configuration of nonmonogamy imaginable: a bisexual woman who conveniently finds herself almost perfectly situated to join an established married couple who need someone to recharge their sexual and romantic lives....

I don’t want to be too hard on this show, which has a lot going for it too. Writer John Scott Shepherd’s words and the skillful performance of the actors achieve some very real moments in the first two episodes. I think anyone that’s stepped outside their (or society’s) sexual comfort zones can relate to the simultaneous feelings of exhilaration and trepidation Jack and Emma feel together. Like many polyamorous people, I’ve found sexual intimacy with a new person can reinvigorate my lust for the other lovers I’ve already had. And for all that some of us may be tired of seeing “hot bi babe” hunters on OKCupid, I’ve never seen a show that focuses on a three person relationship like this, even if it’s one that doesn’t look much like the ones I’ve been in.

I also appreciate that Jack is set up to be the person with the most to lose, and the most hesitation about going outside of cultural norms. While the perception of polyamory is frequently that its driven by male lust, in my experience heterosexual men are often terrified of granting their partners freedom to explore their desires. And used to being the recipient of patriarchal privilege and power, I’ve sometimes seen these dudes crumble at the idea of giving up even a tiny percentage of that privilege by joining a sexual minority....

John Scott Shepherd at the SXSW premiere of “You Me Her”
John Scott Shepherd at the SXSW premiere
of “You Me Her.” (Kit O’Connell photo)
A few words with John Scott Shepherd

...During the red carpet, I asked him about what attracted him to the project.

“I’ve always been interested in alternative relationships and extramarital relationships,” Shepherd told me. “But when I was watching movies about them and TV shows about them, it seemed like they were all dark. I thought, what would it be like if it happened to me, if I was actually drawn into a romance that involved more than one person.”

He continued, “What would it be like if we actually got into a relationship and we realized that our happiness was based on something we didn’t ever foresee? It makes my heart patter if my definition of happiness was so different from my societal norm. Would I have the balls to do it?”...

A sitcom with a lot of heart(s)

In the end, I’m glad to see TV exploring new stories about different ways of relating. Given that it still sometimes feels revolutionary just to see opposite sex friends in a TV show (c.f. “Sleepy Hollow”), I’m all about a show that wants to mix it up.

I also appreciate any storytelling that sets out to depict sex as something that has a positive influence on people and relationships — a notion that’s shockingly rare in the media, and puts “You Me Her” in the same rarefied air as “Shortbus” (2006), albeit in a much safer, TV-friendly form....

There’s genuine chemistry between the cast, and the writing has emotional depth and realism, even if it never strikes as far into uncharted territory as some polyamorous folk might like. As the show continues, perhaps Jack, Emma and Izzy will seek out some other polyamorous friends, giving the show a chance to show even more ways of relating. Despite these limitations, it feels like a real slice of life that we’ve never seen sliced up on screen before.

...Whatever happens, I’ll still give credit to Shepherd, Pohler, Blanchard, Faia and company for trying something new, and letting some viewers see that love comes in many forms, if you’re brave enough to admit it.


Read his whole article (March 22, 2016), with more pix and videos.

And if you see more reviews of the show worth noting here, please let me know: alan7388 (at) gmail.com

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March 22, 2016

You Me Her, DirecTV's "polyromantic comedy," debuts tonight



Mainstreaming continues. NBC's Today Show yesterday morning interviewed Greg Poehler, the starring guy in tonight's You Me Her, which DirecTV calls "a polyromantic comedy... DirecTV's answer to the modern rom-com." The series of ten half-hour episodes starts tonight at 9 ET/PT on Audience Network, which is carried by DirecTV (channel 239) and U-verse TV (channel 1114).

● Here's the Today Show interview, in which polyamory is declared a trend that everybody's talking about. (Be prepared for it to autoplay; to shut it up, hit stop or mute.)

● The summary on IMDb:


What begins as an impulsive "date" between suburban husband Jack and neophyte escort Izzy, spins into a whirlwind three-way sexual affair including Jack's wife Emma, whose been keeping secrets of her own. Over a span of just 10 days, their "arrangement" breaks free of its financial bonds to become something else entirely: A real romance, with real stakes, involving three real people, confronting viewers with the compelling question: What if your best, truest, happiest life looked nothing like you thought it would? Would you be brave enough to live it?


● One-minute trailer:



● More video clips.

● A half-hour interview program with the creator and cast, posted on AOL:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQXRD9gj2UM

● A preview showing at SXSW last week is reviewed: Series premiere of You Me Her at SXSW had audience laughing.


The audience watched the premiere of two episodes, laughing at many scenes, and provided positive feedback afterwards. One audience member said, as someone in a polyamorous relationship, he thought the creators did well in portraying the relationship without over-sexualizing it.

“The whole idea of season one is to take this unconventional construct and make it fit in a conventional romantic-comedy flow,” said John Scott Sheperd, screenwriter and executive producer. “That’s kind of how season one goes, with some huge surprises along the way.”

The series is not about sex, it’s about connection and how sexuality is fluid, [actress Priscilla] Faia said.

“What we’ve talked about is the idea ‘what if your truth and happiness look nothing like you ever imagined, what if it didn’t fit in to your immediate society, would you have the balls to live it?’,” Sheperd said.


● On iDigital Times:


You Me Her
can lean a little too hard on its “rom-com” genre at times, but its premise is genuinely thought provoking. Through the first two episodes screened at SXSW, You Me Her appears to exploit its loaded concept from a variety of angles — romantically, socially and professionally. And though these ideas may seem like heavy themes to ponder, the show maintains a light, easy-going tone that makes it easy to binge-watch in one sitting.

If You Me Her streamed on Netflix, it would be hit. Its odds to succeed would remain high even on network television. Unfortunately, however, You Me Her will make its home on DirecTV’s Audience Network. The platform is only available to DirecTV subscribers, and even they probably don’t know of the Audience Network’s existence. So then, who will watch this TV show?

It’s a shame, considering the quality of You Me Her....



● Expect more publicity to pop up today.

● The show's Facebook page.

● And now it gets silly/creepy: As part of its publicity push, Audience Network offers a Facebook gimmick, "Would You Me Her?", a hokey little spin-the-bottle game matching you up with two of your Facebook friends who presumably might also be interested:


What better way to find your ultimate polyamorous relationship than cruising your friends on Facebook. Let’s get your relationship status to a heightened “it’s complicated” and get started!


I tried it and got random triple-ups with known poly Facebook friends. Thankfully, it made no attempt to push us together. But maybe that's because I was careful to share the results with only myself.

● Another promotional stunt: A See-Through Bedroom in Times Square Is Inviting Couples for a Threesome today, as told in this morning's New York edition of Metro (March 22):


Today beginning at 10 a.m., a totally transparent bedroom will open for “business” in Times Square. That business is to promote the premiere of You Me Her, a new sitcom about a polyamorous relationship — by asking couples to get inside, climb into bed with a model and pose for a faux threesome. Oh, and it could be broadcast on the Sony digital billboard at 1 Times Square, so, smile?

We’re not sure where to even start with this one, but equating jumping into a stranger’s bed with an actual polyamorous relationship seems like a bad way to promote what may actually be a legit show. [Thank you for saying this! –Ed.]

You Me Her co-stars Greg Poehler, brother of feminist comedian Amy, as a husband who hires an escort to spice up his loving but sexually stale marriage. It’s a grotty premise, but Amy wouldn’t let him steer us wrong, right?...


I don't get DirecTV or U-verse. If you watch the show, tell us in the comments what you think? Thanks.

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March 21, 2016

More on the Underwoods' poly marriage in *House of Cards*


Slate put up an article this morning about the poly developments on House of Cards that I posted about on Friday. Says Slate,


Frank [the president of the United States] delivers a speech to Claire that he might have cribbed straight from a role play in a polyamory workshop.


The piece includes video clips of two key scenes. Warning, spoilers ahead.



Beyond Marriage

The fourth season of House of Cards is a fascinating portrait of polyamory.

By Christina Cauterucci

Poly for real? Frank and Claire Underwood in House of Cards
Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright as Frank and Claire Underwood in House of Cards.

...Frank makes no moves without careful calculation. Season 4 brings another one of his deliberate gestures laden with meaning, this one at the Underwoods’ breakfast table: He offers Tom Yates, who’s just spent the night with Claire in the Underwood home, his daily plate of apple slices.

[Video]

So begins a new phase in the Underwoods’ relationship, which the most recent season of the Netflix series portrays as a thoroughly evolved, robustly healthy open marriage. In Episode 11, after learning that Claire and speechwriter Yates have agreed to halt their affair during the Underwoods’ presidential campaign, Frank delivers a speech to Claire that he might have cribbed straight from a role play in a polyamory workshop:

He should stay on, because he can give you things that I can’t. Look, Claire, we’ve been a great team. But one person—one person cannot give everything to another person. I can’t travel with you. I don’t keep you warm at night. I don’t see you the way he sees you. It’s not my permission to give, but you’ll do what’s right for you. But I want you to know, if you wanted, I know you’ll be careful. And I’ll be fine. I mean, if we’re gonna go beyond marriage, let’s go beyond it.

For a man who has blackmailed, entrapped, and killed to preserve his own megalomaniacal path to power, putting a partner’s autonomous needs over jealousy is a shockingly selfless move. Frank’s response is doubly generous since he himself had a near-romantic encounter with Yates in Season 3. Not only that, but he recognizes that it’s not his permission to give. In all other arenas of his life, Frank draws his lifeblood from manipulation; he’d rather die than lose control. In his marriage, he’s content to watch Claire pursue her own path to happiness, even if it means bringing another man into their house.

...Which raises the question: Why don’t more politicians and public figures, whose lives are impossibly busy and often lived apart, go the “beyond marriage” route? Often, when a political sex scandal breaks, rumors flutter about a secret open marriage. Did Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin have an agreement? Did Silda Wall Spitzer know about Eliot’s penchant for sex workers? Maybe not. But, as Hanna Rosin wrote in Slate when House of Cards first began, if they did, they’d be excoriated:
Were the Underwoods a real political couple in actual Washington and the double-affair scandal broke, news reports would depict theirs as a marriage of cold, calculated convenience — the Clintons, but worse. Francis would be revealed as secretly gay, turned on by women only when he can use them for a pure power play. Claire would be a Lady Macbeth figure, orgasmic when mutually scheming but devoid of anything like warm-blooded love....

...In pop culture, open marriages hew to one of two archetypes. There’s the rarer House of Cards model, in which the partners truly embrace the freedom-in-security of their relationship, recognizing that the benefits of a lifetime partnership need not cease when sexual attraction fades or strays. The Good Wife, on the other hand, envisions a political marriage more in tune with popular persuasion: one purely for show, where the relationship has all but evaporated and extramarital dalliances are expected but still begrudged.

Today, misgivings about open relationships extend beyond the strict moral code of politics: Just last week, the New York Times published a biological anthropologist’s skeptical take on Mo’Nique’s open marriage, which Dan Savage roundly dismissed. Though House of Cards’ depiction of nonmonogamy strikes me as the warmest, most compassionate arc of the series, the carefully negotiated arrangement that is Claire and Frank’s marriage serves to support the show’s larger narrative of a sociopathic couple that prioritizes power over passion. Depending on who’s watching, their open marriage and Frank’s queer sexuality can complicate and humanize the Underwoods, or it can solidify their characters as depraved utilitarians with no solid moral compass. A show less cynical than House of Cards might have used their progressive relationship as a lens for interpreting the political marriages we love to probe and mock. Instead, the show seems to conclude that the polyamorous Underwoods are void of emotional attachment, divorcing sex from love and vice-versa, with hearts too frozen to burst into flames when a spouse’s desires lead her astray.

Christina Cauterucci is a Slate staff writer.


Read the whole article (March 21, 2016).


Update: Article by Mimi Schippers, Beyond Monogamous Marriage in House of Cards (April 20, 2016). Excerpt:


This is one of the only times that we see Frank demonstrate an ability to selflessly give to another person. When he acknowledges that “…he can give [her] things that [he] can’t,” and that “…one person cannot give everything to another person,” he uncharacteristically acknowledges his own inability to fulfill all of Claire’s needs. Frank explicitly honors Claire’s entitlement to get her needs met in terms of sexual pleasure and intimacy. The line, “It’s not my permission to give, but you’ll do what’s right for you,” names Claire’s autonomy to make her own decisions about her sexual relationships. In this scene, the traditional relationship between husband and wife, where the husband is head-of-household and jealously controls the wife, is re-tooled as a marriage between equals. In HOC, the wife (Claire) is autonomous and entitled to a sexual life independent of her husband, and Frank, the husband, selflessly steps aside so she can.


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March 18, 2016

President, First Lady, and aide begin poly relationship in House of Cards


(Warning, spoilers.)  The hit Netflix series House of Cards, about fictional U.S. President Frank Underwood and first lady Claire, takes an unexpected poly turn near the end of its fourth season, which was released two weeks ago.

The Underwoods are ruthless schemers who can't always trust even each other. So I was surprised to hear that the current season (all episodes of a "season" are released at once) includes a plot development that definitely seems like polyamory. As Bustle summarizes:


'House Of Cards' Humanizes Consensual Non-Monogamy In The Fourth Season

The actors (looking not so ruthless) at a Netflix event.

By Kristen Sollee

House of Cards may celebrate greed, corruption, and the dark side of human nature, but its depiction of consensual non-monogamy is revelatory. The power-hungry power couple of Claire and Frank Underwood are guilty of murder, treason, and fraud many times over — which not-so-subtly reinforces the idea that only "bad people" stray from traditional relationships — but somehow this fact doesn't diminish the way the show humanizes and de-stigmatizes an often misunderstood relationship practice.

While House of Cards' first season delves into the sexual side of non-monogamy in a steamy threesome between Claire, Frank, and their head of security, the fourth season explores the romantic side, with Claire beginning an intimate relationship with a presidential speechwriter. When Frank discovers that his wife has strong feelings for another man, he isn't enraged — as traditional Hollywood films would have him be — but instead delivers a monologue that is sure to bring a tear to many a non-monogamous person's eye. Kevin Spacey's character says:

He can give you things that I can't. Look, Claire, we've been a great team, but one person, one person cannot give everything to another person... I don't see you the way he sees you. It's not my permission to give, but you'll do what's right for you. I want you to know if you want it, I know you'll be careful, and I'll be fine. I mean, if we're gonna go beyond marriage, let's go beyond it.

The reason this swoon-worthy speech is so revolutionary for mainstream TV is because non-monogamy is too often portrayed as shameful and immoral and all about hitting it and quitting it. Instead, Underwood's monologue focuses on an underrepresented side of the practice, one which is based in love that transcends labels.


It's a shame that such a sweet moment has to be situated in a series about corruption, because there is nothing corrupt about love that doesn't need to be locked down to thrive. As more and more people test the waters of this completely healthy arrangement, however, perhaps we'll see even more nuanced representations of consensual non-monogamy like this one.


The original article (March 11, 2016).

Scott in Portland writes us,


In [season 4] episode 11, the President and First Lady negotiate a (discreet) polyamorous arrangement with their speechwriter. The negotiation begins around the 34:00 mark, continues at 43:00, and culminates at 47:00.

It seems the writers went out of their way to make a statement about polyamory, although it's a somewhat ambiguous statement given that, on the one hand, the two main characters are certifiably despicable as politicians, and on the other hand, there seems to be genuine love and/or respect between the three characters.


Katie Klabusich goes into much more depth, movingly, at The Establishment:


What ‘House Of Cards’ Can Teach Us About Polyamory

I cried literal tears of joy during episode 11 of the current House of Cards season.

...I first saw myself in Claire [earlier] when her reaction to husband Frank possibly stepping out on their marriage was underwhelming by cultural and Hollywood standards. The depiction of her own on-again, off-again affair with a photographer led to the revelation that she and Frank clearly had an unconventional marriage. The audience was left with the distinct impression that they might even be open about being open — or at least unconcerned about hiding — if they weren’t in the politics business.

...Yes, she’s conniving and vindictive and conspiring with her husband in power-grab schemes while screwing over long-time employees at her non-profit and threatening anyone who can’t get on board with what she wants . . . and yet, I became hooked to this character, fully invested in seeing things work out for her. We watch because of the inherent suspense in risky, evil plan-making, and the complex feelings we have rooting for characters who do very bad things.

Conniving aside, Claire is decidedly likable — as is nearly every recurring character on the show, save maybe the Russian president. Which is why it matters that she is so unconventional. It is always easier to accept norm-challenging ideas and choices when they are exhibited by people we are invested in.


...Their decision not to have children helped bring them to a place where they could go “beyond marriage.” The final three episodes of season four pull together all the choices they’ve made over the course of their 30-year partnership, both together and individually. We hear Claire first use that phrase at a campaign stop in South Dakota as she delivers a speech written by Thomas Yates — a best-selling author turned Underwood staffer. Claire asks two supporters why they are outspoken despite being surrounded by Conway’s base in the heart of solid red country. Why aren’t they voting for the veteran who is married with two small children? The wife responds:

“When we saw you two at the convention, I don’t know — it just seemed like a real partnership.”

As Claire stands in their front yard explaining to the cameras that, of course, she and Frank would be on the ticket together — that she and her husband had been partners in policy and campaigning and life since they met, she owned the uniqueness of their relationship and unconventional life.

“We’re not just president and first lady or husband and wife; we have made a choice to tackle everything together,” she said. “We go beyond what’s pretty and perfect, beyond what’s scary, difficult and unknown. We’re not just partners on the ticket; we’re partners in life.”

...Here was a First Lady and vice-presidential nominee declaring that their being “beyond marriage” was not something to overlook; it was, in fact, a reason to vote for them.

The most exciting thing about their marriage for me also happens to be the most unconventional, an element that largely remains hidden from public view: they have long been open with each other about having outside sexual partners. They even had a spontaneous threesome with Edward Meechum one evening after his shift protecting the Underwoods had ended. So when Thomas Yates accompanies Claire to Texas where her estranged mother was about to die, the audience isn’t surprised to see them spend the night together.

Claire and Tom only got together one more time (on camera, at least) before he tells her he should leave the campaign. When she begins to protest, he says tells her she doesn’t have to say anything.

...And so, because of all the understandable assumptions and cultural norms, Tom leaves. Then, something remarkable happens. (Queue my tears of joy.) Claire calls Frank to let him know that Tom has left the campaign and Frank seems surprised and concerned about whether or not she’s alright.

When Tom is shown pacing in Frank’s office (in the residence, not the Oval), I was anticipating what came next in a way that most of the audience likely wasn’t. As someone in a polyamorous relationship with a married man, I’m analogous to Tom in this scene — though I knew my partner was poly when we met....

...Tom doesn’t know he’s about to have a meeting with a metamour, so when Frank asks “It was more than just a fling, wasn’t it?” he is, understandably, expecting anger to follow. Instead, Frank seems to be inquiring about Tom’s intentions towards his wife. Satisfied that they had a real connection — “Do you make Claire laugh?” he asks — Frank sends his former speechwriter home. The next day in the Oval Office — the symbol of their partnership and everything they’ve achieved together as a couple — Frank asks Claire if the South Dakota “beyond marriage” speech was Tom’s. My polyamorous heart skipped a beat. I couldn’t believe I was watching this conversation being depicted on such a stage.

“He should stay on — not as your speech writer,” Frank says. “Well, I mean, yes, for the rest of the world he could be our speech writer. But that’s not why he should stay on. He should stay on because he can give you things that I can’t.”

Right there, on the couch in the Oval Office, the president and the first lady decide to go full poly. Their conversation is perfect. They affirm their love for each other. Frank says that this isn’t about his permission — that isn’t his to give. He simply knows that she respects his feelings (at least when it comes to the romantic aspect of their marriage) and he wants her to know he more than understands; he wants her to be happy and fulfilled.

...Ideally, poly connections are all about added value, not about conceding time or emotion to someone else. Sitting next to his wife holding her hands, Frank makes a proposal that shows just how much he understands how poly families work.

“Look, Claire, we’ve been a great team. But one person—one person cannot give everything to another person . . . I don’t see you the way he sees you,” he says. “I mean, if we’re gonna go beyond marriage, let’s go beyond it.”

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

Once they decide to truly go beyond marriage, the poly aspects of their life are depicted in the deliciously mundane way most ethically non-monogamous households work.... The writers avoid sensationalism and conflict when most viewers are anticipating emotional drama. I know people were expecting drama because this is the exact sort of moment on the minds of those who ask me, “Yeah, but how does it work?” From now on, I’m just going to send them this perfectly-crafted scene:

We see the three of them at their first breakfast together following Tom’s first night in the White House. No one speaks (typical in many homes, poly or no); but no one avoids eye contact. Tom graciously watches where Frank and Claire sit to see which chair isn’t claimed. Claire smiles appreciatively at Frank after he passes the apples he’s sliced to Tom who has set plates in front of everyone. Frank delves into the newspaper as the scene fades to black.

As the theme music and credits started, I felt the warm calm of validation. I’d just seen my ideal life on screen — without sensationalism. Here’s hoping the plot continues.


Read her whole article (March 17, 2016).

Then again, a commenter elsewhere says, "It's clear it's a manipulative weird thing in this show, as most things are in this show."

Update March 21: Slate posts a thoughtful article, with videos of key scenes.

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Shirley MacLaine on her open marriage

She's been an actress since 1955, starred recently in Downton Abbey, and at 81 has another movie role coming up. She claims that she lived in Atlantis in a past life and a lot of other such things. Now she's in the news again after opening up on Sirius XM about her open marriage (which isn't news; she dished about it to Oprah Winfrey in 2011). It doesn't sound like a particularly good open marriage, but what do we know.

I post about this only because people have been saying I should. Excerpts from the (yuck) Daily Mail:



Shirley MacLaine says sleeping with other people is 'basis for a long-lasting marriage' (even though she ended up divorced)

Shirley MacLaine at 81

She had the most unconventional of relationships with her husband Steve Parker.

But Shirley MacLaine has opened up to say sleeping with other people is the 'basis for a long-lasting marriage' — even though they ended up getting a divorce.

The Hollywood legend was married to Steve [in 1954], who she described as 'the love of my life,' and they got divorced in 1982. They managed to remain on good terms even after she discovered the film producer had been transferring huge sums of her money into a girlfriend's bank account....

While still married the 81-year-old had affairs with a slew of her high profile lovers, including Hollywood hardman Robert Mitchum, singer and actor Yves Montand, funnyman Danny Kaye and former Australian foreign minister Andrew Peacock.

But the Downton Abbey star does not believe this affected her relationship with her husband, saying: I guess you would say (we) "practiced an open marriage" in 1954, which was another lifetime.

'No one understood it. We did. He lived in Japan basically. I lived in America working, and this and that. We'd meet up, always great friends, traveled sometimes together.'...


The whole article (March 17, 2016).

Update later in the day: ABC News has put up an interview with her from some years back in which she explains the philosophy behind their open marriage quite well:



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March 15, 2016

Washington Post writer ponders a poly solution for "The Bachelor" season finale


The Washington Post writer who was so deeply impressed by local polyfolks last month shares some wistful musings about yesterday's season finale of "The Bachelor."

That's ABC's dating-game reality show, in which a marriageable guy begins the season with a pool of two dozen women to eliminate one by one; he is expected to propose marriage to the finalist.


‘Bachelor’ Ben Higgins says he’s in love with two women. That’s not so surprising.

On “The Bachelor” finale, Ben Higgins chooses between
Lauren Bushnell and Joelle “JoJo” Fletcher. (Matt Dunn/ABC)

By Lisa Bonos

If “The Bachelor’s” Ben Higgins weren’t forced to pick one woman and propose tonight, would he continue dating both of them?

I think so.

...While the show’s timeline of professing love, meeting the family and getting engaged feels more 1950s than 2010s, the concept of dating more than one person at a time and choosing between multiple options is only becoming more common, not less.

But you know what else is becoming more common: Not limiting yourself to just one partner. Polyamory, the practice of having multiple romantic relationships, with the knowledge of everyone involved, is becoming more mainstream....

I doubt Higgins is a polyamorist trying to force himself into monogamy. However, his professions of love to both Lauren Bushnell and Joelle “JoJo” Fletcher (unheard of in “Bachelor” history) are a reminder that monogamy is becoming less and less common.

For all the ways that “The Bachelor” is stuck in the past — its lack of diversity, for example, and the old-fashioned gender roles baked into the show — this however accidental and short-lived embrace of polyamory is the most progressive and interesting thing that’s happened this season.

When I spent some time reporting on polyamorists around Higgins’ age, they talked a lot about what it was like to be in love with multiple people. “The love you feel feels different,” Rachel Ruvinsky, a 22-year-old polyamorist told me, “not terms of quantity or quality, just how it feels.”

...“One clever solution to the unique dilemma the bachelor is in, would be to offer both finalists a relationship, more specifically, to be polyamorous,” says Rhonda Balzarini, a PhD candidate studying polyamorous relationships at Western University in Ontario.

...As bland as Higgins seems to be, Balzarini thinks he could actually make a fantastic mainstream ambassador for polyamory. “Ben is boring enough to sit down and have long conversations,” Balzarini told me. And because “polyamory requires you to negotiate everyone’s needs and make sure everyone feels met and understood, it requires an extreme capacity to communicate.”

...But is America ready for a polyamorous Bachelor? Balzarini thinks so. “We’re in need of some vocabulary to have these conversations,” she says....


Read the whole article (March 14, 2016).

Gee, I remember 48 years back, when I thought I was nearly the only one in the world who saw these stereotyped love-choice tragedies through utopian eyes — and hearing Grace Slick quietly singing, "I don't really see / Why can't we go on as three?" *

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* The refrain of "Triad," on the Jefferson Airplane's Crown of Creation album. As far as I've been able to tell, that song (written by David Crosby; lyrics) was what established "triad" as the poly term for a relationship of three. That was in 1968. Can anyone find an earlier use of it this way?



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"Is the Family of the Future Polyamorous?"

Yahoo News
Connections.Mic


Getty

To answer that grabby headline, "Some will be!"

But how many? My own bet is that 50 years from now, in a totally poly-aware and poly-accepting society, most people will still choose monogamy most of the time — if only because it's structurally simpler (i.e., less work).

Why do I think that? Look around the polyworld right now. There are more open couples than bonded vees and triads; more triads than quads; more quads than quints. The trend is clear: the more complicated the family structure, the less often it "occurs in nature." Follow that trend the other way, and simple dyads will be commonest.

The number trend changes, however, when you get into larger extended networks that are not so much families as tribes. These become possible where there's a big community, mostly in urban areas. The extended-network model seems to be where more of the poly world has been going for the last 10 years, especially the young. And within an intimate network, you see a lot of pairing up: "anchor-partner" dyads with extensions.

This story popped up at Connections.Mic, then Yahoo News. Excerpts:


Is the Family of the Future Polyamorous?

By Oliver Bateman

When it comes to marriage, three is still a crowd. But that might be changing sooner than we think. According to a 2015 Gallup poll, a small-yet-growing percentage of Americans report that they find the concept of plural marriage "morally acceptable," while polyamorous relationships are increasingly receiving mainstream media coverage....

...The rise of polyamory (as well as the possibility of a more liberal replacement for [Justice Antonin] Scalia, who passed away in February) begs the question: Will multiple-partner relationships eventually become the norm? And if so, what would actually change from a legal perspective?

..."Our entire system is geared toward the nuclear family model, two biological parents," Sandy Peace told Mic. Peace is a California psychologist and sex educator who has done extensive work with people involved in the polyamory community. "Many polyamorous families don't 'come out' to neighbors and school administrators because of concerns about prejudice and misunderstanding."

...Whether or not plural marriage should be legalized is "debated within our own community, similar to the gay community — there are people who don't believe we should go after plural marriage, and there are those who do," Robyn Trask, the executive director of the polyamory support organization Loving More, told U.S. News & World Report in 2015.

Dallas-based sex activist Golden Blayze, a genderqueer person who "nests" (i.e., resides) with another genderqueer partner but also maintains relationships with a cisgender man and two other genderqueer individuals, disagrees. For Blayze, who uses the pronouns "they" and "them," formal legal recognition matters.

"I am a firm believer in the idea that sex is political, that the personal is political, and that my lifestyle is a challenge to heteronormativity," Blayze told Mic. "Yet to be open and speak my truth to power, when there are so many day-to-day difficulties ranging from insurance to social security benefits ... it's already not easy on the people who are important to me, but these hurdles make it so much harder for all of us to be together."...

...The road from recognition to tolerance to full and complete acceptance for polyamorous families is likely to be long and harrowing. In spite of these challenges, many in the community stress the lifestyle's inherent advantages....

"The dominant cultural ideal of the 'nuclear family' can be very isolating and is not normative for many families and cultures," Peace said. "Multi-generational households and extended family caring for children allows for a diversity of connection and support. Polyamorous families and social networks mirror this extended family structure even though they are not related by blood."...

"Having three parents when you have a toddler is the best thing that ever happened," remarked one of the participants in Sandy Peace's 2012 study of polyamorous identity development, adding how "the great thing now is that one couple stays home to babysit and the other couple goes out for the evening and then we switch off."...


Read on (March 14, 2015).

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March 14, 2016

BuzzFeed LGBT: "What Makes A Happy, Successful Throuple"


Another how-to article gets key concepts spot on, and not just for gay guys. Here's another sign that our message is getting out correctly. Excerpts:


We Talked To People In Poly Relationships About What Makes A Happy, Successful Throuple

Because sometimes three is so much better than two.

Michelle Rial / BuzzFeed News

By Nico Lang

Jim and John, New Yorkers in their mid-thirties, recently celebrated their 10-year anniversary. They met in 2005 an AOL chatroom — Queens M4M — and quickly hit it off. To celebrate a decade of commitment, the two exchanged rings last year. During the private exchange, Jim and John also gave a ring to their partner, Thomas, whom the couple began dating two years ago after meeting on Scruff, a popular app for gay men to connect. “We didn’t want him to feel left out,” John explained.

Decades ago, such a ceremony might have seemed unthinkable. However, the practice of polyamory — among both queer and heterosexual populations — has become more visible in recent years....

But aside from books like The Ethical Slut or Franklin Veaux and Eve Rickert’s More Than Two, the resources for people in relationships like John, Jim, and Thomas’s remain few and far between. BuzzFeed talked to poly folks about what makes their relationships work — and what they would recommend for others willing to give triads a shot.

Find Your Balance

...John mentioned that negotiating that imbalance, where two partners live together and the other does not, has made it important to make Thomas feel welcome from day one. “I never want him to feel like it’s two against one,” John said.

All three of them grew up in the city, enough to know that life, like the city’s ever-shifting neighborhoods, changes. Restaurants come and go, your favorite independent café becomes a high-rise, and friends move to other cities. But bringing Thomas into their relationship has provided unexpected stability, giving them an equilibrium that they otherwise lacked....

Foster Open, Healthy Communication

...According to Anna, 32, poly folks are forced to practice conflict resolution in a way that many couples do not. “[Communication] is not something you’re born with,” she said. “It’s a skill — like riding a bike. They’re forced to develop it, because they’re forced to talk about all these problems that you wouldn’t even think about in other relationship configurations. You don’t take anything for granted.”

When I asked how John, Jim, and Thomas ensure honest and open communication among the three of them, they all were quick to respond — at the exact same time: “group texts!” They also agreed that having a third person around to hash out issues can actually be a boon to communication. “When you’re in a one-on-one relationship, you always think you’re right,” John said. “In a group, there’s always someone to be the voice of reason.”...

Be Mindful About Scheduling

For Billy, Danny, and Dominic, the biggest issue wasn’t communication but scheduling, including negotiating their varying schedules.

...“At that time I was working two jobs and was really busy and lived 40 minutes from Dom,” Billy said. “Danny lived even further away. I would get jealous because they would get to spend most of a weekend together, whereas I might only get to see them for one evening.”

...Billy explained that making time together has remained a challenge for their relationship. “We do have to plan things quite far in advance to make sure we can all get the time off,” he said.

According to Kari David, 28, the issue is that triads aren’t just a matter of coordinating three peoples’ calendars. You have to worry about three partners with potentially very different schedules.

“There’s more logistical concerns: It really is a balancing of four relationships, not just one,” he said.

Negotiate Your Boundaries

In addition to communication and scheduling, a common problem in poly relationships is negotiating jealousy. “Triads can definitely amplify relationship problems,” Kari David said. In one of his relationships — the less successful one — each of his partners would come to him to vent about the other’s perceived faults, instead of addressing the complaint directly. That might have eased tension in the short term, but it rarely solved anything.

“It was really hard for all of us to figure out how to have boundaries when we were all so intimate with each other, but not equally suited to one another or all equally involved in every conflict,” he said.

But in good triads, forcing each partner to be more mindful about how they interact with each other can strengthen the relationship. According to Kari David, the “biggest lesson” he has learned from engaging in polyamory is “not to make assumptions and to negotiate things explicitly”: “Even if two people luck out and are on the same page, the third is likely to want something different,” he said.
Amanda, 34, agreed.... “Understand that your relationship is a living thing, and that it will change, and have a degree of understanding and flexibility when confronted with that reality.”

Be Willing to Learn and Grow

Polyamory often involves a lot of trial and error — trying things that don’t work and being open to to the fact that you might be afraid of life outside monogamy....

As Amanda explained, it can be difficult to deal with the pervasive stigma around poly relationships. But what’s so great about them is that you get to reflect on those societal pressures and define the terms of your relationships for yourself. How you love and whom you love is up to you....

While John explained that he’s “learned a lot more patience” through dating Jim and Thomas, he felt that what has made their triad work is that it’s a democracy. “It’s majority rules — what works best for the most amount of people,” John said. “This wouldn’t work if we were all extremely stubborn....


Read the whole article (March 12, 2016).

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March 13, 2016

In a Latina magazine, "Polyamory: More people are willing to try new ways to form family and community"


Vivala is an online magazine/platform "for a new generation of bold and savvy Latinas to connect and have their voices heard" in English. A good Poly 101 article has popped up by a staff reporter. It's another sign that the concept is widely taking hold correctly.

Although the cartoon is off message, and the title is extreme.


Polyamory: Maybe Monogamy Really Is Dead

More and more people are willing to try new ways to form family and community.

By Lora Somoza, Vivala Reporter

Teresa* has been with her boyfriend, Brian, for three and a half years. They met at a music festival, immediately hit it off, and have been together ever since. She loves that he’s kind and strong and wants to make the world a better place. Teresa met Anna through Brian. She’s now one of her closest friends. Anna also happens to be Brian’s other girlfriend. And both Anna and Brian know about Matt, a guy Teresa dates occasionally when he’s in town.

...Teresa is one of the growing numbers of women who have found open relationships a better fit than dear old monogamy....

Let’s start with what it’s NOT. Polyamory is not about partner swapping at some strange swing club. It’s not about just hooking up or cheating. It’s not for people who just can’t “commit.” And it’s DEFINITELY not for those who aren’t interested in talking about their relationships; poly couples will tell you they sometimes “communicate to death.”

The word "polyamory," literally means loving more than one. It’s the ability to have loving, consensual relationships with two or more other people. And from there, each relationship creates its own rules. Some are like extended families, living together under one roof. Others may be couples that are both seeing other people. But the one thing they all have in common is that their relationships are based on communication, trust, and honesty. And more young women are finding this intriguing.

...Before you change you relationship status to “Poly” on OK Cupid, take the time to get real with yourself. Honesty, openness and communication are vital to any successful relationship. In a polyamorous relationship, you need these qualities on steroids. Take a good look at what you really want and what kind of person you are before you start searching for another partners. Are you the jealous type? Are you self-reliant or do you need someone around all the time? And if you are in a relationship, the two of you will need to have that “everything on the table” talk. What do you want in a poly relationship? What DON’T you want? What are your fears? What is okay and not okay to do? What about sex and keeping it safe? How will you schedule time together?

It can be a lot of hard work, but for many, the pay-offs are worth it....

“I feel like I’m building a loving family and a deep community,” Teresa affirms....


Read on (March 10, 2016).

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March 11, 2016

Dan Savage's devastating reply to Helen Fisher


That New York Times story a couple days ago? The Secrets to an Open Marriage According to Mo’Nique? Which quoted the once-respected anthropologist Helen Fisher saying she just somehow knows these things "never end up working long-term"?

Dan Savage just published a takedown:


Dan Savage in 2013
...The Oscar-winning actress [Mo'Nique] and her husband [Sidney Hicks] are double rarity: not just a straight couple who aren't in the closet about their open marriage, but a famous straight couple in an openly open marriage.

...[Writer Tammy] La Gorce gets a few quotes from someone who comes across as pretty sane about open marriages — Douglas LaBier, a psychologist and the director of the Center for Progressive Development — but La Gorce pretty much hands the rest of the piece over to someone who has clearly lost her mind: Helen Fisher, author, "biological anthropologist at the Kinsey Institute" (RIP Kinsey Institute), and shill for a dating website, where Fisher has been doing important research on the best strategy for getting a second date (take 'em out for sushi) and what it means when a person uses a lot of emojis (they're horny as fuck).

...Where to start?

With Fisher's insulting claim to know better than Mo’Nique and Hicks about how the Mo’Nique and Hicks really feel about their marriage? (They only think they're happy, those deluded human animals!) With Fisher's yanked-from-her-ass assertions about evolutionary pressures that supposedly endowed all modern humans with genes that allow for just one type of romantic "bond" (only pairs, always sexually exclusive!) and just one successful "mating process" (only pairs, again, and it's all about the kids!)? With Fisher's assertion — offered without any data to back it up — that open marriages "never end up working long-term"?

Let's start with that.

"Just because there is a lack of good data on the longevity of open relationships does not mean that 'they never work out,'" said Dr. Debby Herbenick, a research scientist at Indiana University. "Saying 'they never work out' goes beyond any data she has; I would ask her to prove it. Where are her data? I know of none to support that."

Dr. Herbenick has data that contradicts Fisher's "they never work out" and "all people in non-monogamous couples are secretly miserable" bullshit.

"Similar proportions of men in monogamous and open relationships say they are happy in their relationship and sexually satisfied," said Dr. Herbenick, citing ACTUAL FUCKING DATA from the IU School of Public Health's 2014 National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior. "For women, more women in monogamous relationships say that they are happy in their relationship and sexually satisfied. But that doesn't mean none are happy or satisfied, as plenty are."

...On a personal note/anecdote: my husband and I recently celebrated our 21st anniversary and our marriage has been open for 17 of those years. Hey, maybe Terry and I need Helen Fisher to swing by the house and explain to us how we're really secretly miserable, just like Mo'Nique and Hicks....

Moving on...

Fisher's bizarre theory of brain adjacency: the chunks of our brainz involved in romantic love are located near the chunks of brainz that "orchestrate" thirst and hunger and that's why there's no such thing as a successful open marriage. CASE CLOSED!

That sounded like complete bullshit — and not just to me.

"It is a rather odd claim to say that the reason a phenotypic trait will operate the way it does is because a particular brain region responsible for it is adjacent to other brain regions which do something else," said Dr. Qazi Rahman, King's College London. "That kind of model of brain-behaviour relationships would generate all sorts of very odd predictions which most neuroscientists or neuropsychologists would find strange. But then all behaviour and mental activity is 'in the brain' and so I'm not clear making these sorts of claims does any useful explanatory work for behavioural scientists."

"There is an entire network of the brain involved in romantic love," said Dr. James Pfaus.... [Fisher] doesn’t get it. She has never gotten it. Her view of the brain is a neurochemical phrenology."

..."I spoke with Helen at a conference once," a researcher who did not wish to be identified told me in an email. "Helen said there is a single gene that will determine whether a man cheats or not. We carefully explained why this couldn't be so.”

Fisher, like so many other hacks in the love-and-relationship racket, wants sex and love and marriage to work in a certain way — they insist it only works this one way — and this monogamist bias informs and distorts Fisher's work.

"I enjoy Helen's stuff, but think she's blind to her cultural bias on this one," said Dr. David Ley. "I'd be interested in whether she truly thinks monogamy 'works' long-term, given divorce and infidelity rates. I think the most damaging piece of Fisher's approach is her generalization of her beliefs to all humans. The valuable thing about modern relationships is the ability to individually negotiate a relationship, based upon each partners' needs, strengths and deficits."...


Those are highlights; see the whole article (March 11, 2016).

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Advice column: Lying mono gal upset at honest poly guy


"Love Letters" is an advice column in the Boston Globe by Meredith Goldstein. She posts questions and her answers online in advance, invites readers to comment, and includes some of their comments in the print edition a few days later.

This one, just up this morning, cries out for informative replies from the poly community. Here's an opportunity for public education.

In its entirety:


He doesn’t want ‘traditional monogamy’

Q: Back in October I met a man at a social function. We exchanged numbers and have been dating ever since. He told me in the beginning that he came from a "poly background," and at first I didn't see anything wrong with that because we had just started dating and I wasn't sure this was serious or not.

Since then, we have become more and more serious. Recently, while at his house, I noticed a few things that seemed out of place and even brought it to his attention. He didn't address it at the time but decided to tell me the next day while I was at work that he is not "monogamous" and would like to know my feelings on that. It took me a few days to regain my composure and explain my feelings about the situation. While I informed him that I would like to be monogamous, he simply stated that he is not compatible with traditional monogamy. It was either I accept him as polyamorous or nothing at all. Thinking that the age difference (he's 11 years younger) was at play here and that all he wanted was to "have his cake and eat it too," I pressed on, calling his bluff and saying that I would be willing to accept this polyamorous situation.

We talked quite a bit about the situation and I thought we were moving forward and making plans for Valentine's Day, when he texted me out of the blue saying he was having anxiety about my not being "mature" enough to accept his need to be poly. This entire situation has given me great anxiety and is causing me to lose sleep. I have made great concessions for this relationship and do not feel like he is making any on his end. At what point do I stop making concessions and give up the relationship?

– AnxietyStricken


A: "At what point do I stop making concessions and give up the relationship?"

Now. You give up the relationship now.

Why do you end the relationship now? Because you don't want to date a guy who's polyamorous.

You want to be in a committed, monogamous relationship, which means you're with the wrong person. This man has been quite clear about his boundaries (or lack thereof), but instead of trusting him and paying attention, you're trying to "call his bluff." Why would he bluff?

It's time to believe everything he says and then make decisions accordingly. There's no reason to lose sleep when he's given you all the information you need.

– Meredith

Readers? Is this about having cake and eating it? Should she stick around?


Here's the original (March 11, 2016), with the link at its bottom to comment to the Boston Globe. Comments you post here on my site will not be seen by the newspaper.

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March 10, 2016

New York Times: "The Secrets to an Open Marriage According to Mo’Nique"


At Loving More's Poly Living convention in Philadelphia last month, longtime activist Jim Fleckenstein held a session to discuss strategies for building poly awareness and acceptance. He's had years of professional experience helping nonprofits in other areas advance their goals. (Loving More is a nonprofit.)

One strategy that came up was getting celebrities to publicly stand with you. Celebrities put a public face on an abstract idea. Think of how effective this was for gay acceptance.

People suggested several celebrities who are out about doing ethical non-monogamy in some form. Margaret Cho? Amanda Palmer? The actress Mo'Nique? Jim asked, "Why aren't we in contact with these people?"

Turns out the New York Times was in contact with Mo'Nique right around then. Today they published a story online that will appear in this Sunday's printed edition, in the Weddings section:


The Secrets to an Open Marriage According to Mo’Nique

Open Marriage graphic by Tom Bloom in the New York Times
Tom Bloom       
By Tammy La Gorce

...It has been a decade since Mo’Nique revealed in an Essence magazine article that she and [Sidney] Hicks, an actor and producer, were in an open marriage.

Now they have begun a podcast that plays on their unusual partnership. In “Mo’Nique and Sidney’s Open Relationship,” which is on Play.It, the CBS podcast network, the couple explains how the so-called polyamorous lifestyle works for them.

Mo'Nique and Sidney Hicks
Sidney and Mo'Nique. (Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

...Mo’Nique and Mr. Hicks bumped into a learning curve right away when establishing rules for their open marriage.

“Sidney had this one thing he had to teach me, and that was reciprocity,” she said. “He said, ‘If you can have that, it’s only fair that I can have that, too.’” The arrangement, which they agreed to before their twin sons were born (they are now 10), was her idea.

“I wanted to continue to see the gentlemen that I was seeing, and I felt comfortable telling my best friend,” she said, meaning Mr. Hicks. “I’m grateful he taught me I had to play fair.”

[Said Hicks,] “We got into this knowing that we both wanted to be with someone who’s going to allow you to be who you are,” he said. “I think one of the most romantic things you can do as a couple is be honest with each other. And we are.”

Other Hollywood couples have been in open marriages, though few have been as open — or successful — as Mo’Nique and her husband have been. The comedian and actress Margaret Cho, for example, spoke about her open marriage in 2013, but she filed for separation last year, after 11 years of marriage. (Through her publicist, Ms. Cho declined to comment for this article.)

Douglas LaBier, a psychologist and the director of the Center for Progressive Development, a Washington-based organization that focuses on the changing forms of relationships, said that from a psychological perspective, people shouldn’t assume that openness in a sexual relationship is bad.

“What’s at the core of it is a desire to form a healthy relationship,” he said....

In marriage, the motto of the future may be “live and let live,” he said.

“I see a much more tolerant, nonjudgmental openness emerging,” Dr. LaBier said. “Everyone is different. You figure out what works for you, and if it’s not imposing something on someone else or hurting someone else, it’s acceptable.”...


Read on (online March 10, 2016; in print March 13).

The article goes on to interview anthropologist and love researcher Helen Fisher, who says flatly, yet again, that these things "never end up working long-term." Can somebody clue her in that counterexamples are all over the place and just make her look stupid?

Dan Savage tweets, "Helen Fisher is full of shit."

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Followup: On March 15th the Times posted some reactions to the story: 'Until I Turned 90, I Always Had More Than One Partner': Readers Discuss Open Marriage.

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● While we're at it, here's a recent open-marriage story in PopSugar: How Sleeping With Other People Makes Me Love Being Married (Feb. 3).


...Our framework is seemingly ever changing. We have learned not to take our first reactions too seriously. One week after exclaiming that he could never in a million years invite his girlfriend over to sleep in my bed (the very idea!), I realised with great surprise that I didn't care. It felt like a collision of the instinct to protect my territory and the growing feeling that the idea of ownership — the insistence that what is mine cannot be hers — is arbitrary and somewhat useless....


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March 9, 2016

You Me Her: a "polyromantic comedy" debuts March 22 on Audience Network


You Me Her title screen

On Tuesday March 22, DirecTV's Audience Network will begin airing You Me Her, which it describes as a "polyromantic comedy" about a couple who open their relationship. They each hire the same sex worker, and then all three fall in love.

Ten 30-minute episodes have already been filmed. The IMDB description:


What begins as an impulsive "date" between suburban husband Jack and neophyte escort Izzy, spins into a whirlwind three-way sexual affair including Jack's wife Emma, whose been keeping secrets of her own. Over a span of just 10 days, their "arrangement" breaks free of its financial bonds to become something else entirely: A real romance, with real stakes, involving three real people, confronting viewers with the compelling question: What if your best, truest, happiest life looked nothing like you thought it would? Would you be brave enough to live it?


One-minute trailer:



According to DirecTV,


You Me Her was created by John Scott Shepherd who will serve as the executive producer and showrunner. The 10-episode comedy draws its inspiration from a Playboy Magazine article “Sugar on Top” by John H. Richardson. It will center on the complex dealings and interactions of a group of individuals involved in a three-way relationship.


The Movie Box calls it


...a new original comedy series about a suburban married couple flirting with the idea of having a polyamorous relationship.

Greg Poehler (brother of comedian Amy Poehler, and the former star/creator of the sitcom "Welcome to Sweden") plays Jack, a sexually frustrated family man who pays an escort (Rookie Blue's Priscilla Faia) to sleep with him. Feeling ashamed, he confesses his one-night affair to his wife, Emma (Fargo's Rachel Blanchard).

Fearing his marriage might be over, Jack is shocked to learn that Emma didn't hire a divorce lawyer, but instead has gone out and hired that same female escort to start her own sexual affair. It creates an unusual situation where they must have an honest and candid conversation about turning their marriage into an open relationship with a third partner.

Created and written by John Scott Shepherd (NBC's Save Me) and directed by Emmy-nominated TV helmer Nisha Ganatra (Transparent), the 10-episode series also stars Jennifer Spence (Continuum), Melanie Papalia (Suits), and Kevin O'Grady (This Means War).


You Me Her three-hearts logo
A You Me Her logo

Does anybody know more? I'm told that the show is featured in the March 7–20 print issue of TV Guide, page 12, but that is not (yet) online.

DirecTV calls the show its "Answer to the Modern RomCom." It will air Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Audience Network is available on DirecTV and U-verse TV, as well as online.

Anyone who watches it, can you report what you think? Post here in the comments, or email me at alan7388 (at) gmail.com. Thanks!

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P.S.: NBC's upcoming "polyamory dramedy" Love, Sex and Neighbors also ought to be showing up sometime. Last November the Hollywood news and PR sheet Deadline TV announced,


Polyamory Dramedy Produced By Adam Shankman In Works At NBC

In Love, Sex And Neighbors, when a fresh-faced, traditional-values couple moves to Orange County [CA], they discover that the parents at their kids’ school are experimenting with polyamory. The one-hour dramedy, written/executive produced by [Gail] Gilchriest, follows four families at the forefront of a quiet revolution in the way everyday people live and love.


Googling finds me nothing about it since then. Does anyone have inside knowledge?

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