Recent posts

No Relationship Model Is One-Size-Fits-All

As I’ve blogged about before, queer and poly relationships actually have a lot of communication strategies to offer straight, monogamous, and vanilla relationships (not to mention the fact that a world where every kind of relationship is not only tolerated but also accepted is a better world for everyone). In a similar vein, Ferrett Steinmetz’s blog post There Is No Okay In Poly does, despite the title, apply to monogamous relationships as well. The post came out of the “Is this okay to do in poly?” questions that the author got tired of hearing, leading him to write of relationship models: “Maybe you select something off the rack at first, but the end goal is to not emulate some other happy couple, but to become one yourself.” In other words, no two relationships are (or should be) the same. Continue Reading →

Poly 101 Vs. Poly 201

In the class on non-monogamy that I’m teaching this semester, we’ve spent some time discussing polyamory and open relationships, focusing on how these relationship models intersect with cultural notions of gender and sexuality. We’ve covered a lot of “Poly 101″ topics such as how to communicate in non-monogamous relationships, so I’m going to pass along to my students this link to a blog post about Poly 201 issues. In it, blogger AmazonSyren describes the importance of having a space in which to discuss the issues that arise when one is practicing an alternative sexuality lifestyle. It’s less about “whoa, this is new, what are my options?” and more about “ok, now that we’re here, let’s discuss managing the daily things that crop up in this lifestyle.” Continue Reading →

California Permits Children To Have More Than Two Legal Parents

Governor Jerry Brown of California just signed a law permitting children to legally have more than two parents. The rationale for the law is that ”Courts need the ability to recognize these changes so children are supported by the adults that play a central role in loving and caring for them…It is critical that judges have the ability to recognize the roles of all parents so that no child has to endure separation from one of the adults he or she has always known as a parent.” Of course, the recent legalization of same-sex marriage in California may also have something to do with the bill, which has conservative groups up in arms, claiming that it will harm children (I’m unclear on how that would work, but okay). Blended heterosexual families, too, will benefit from this law. There are also implications for polyamorous families, wherein multiple adults might inhabit the same household or at least share childcare responsibilities. Continue Reading →

Making Poly (And Other) Relationships Work

I caught an interesting summary on Polyamory in the News of five things that make polyamorous relationships work. In the original article, the author (a therapist) describes the five essential components that she believes an open relationship requires in order to succeed. I mention them here because, as I’ve described in the past, often something that make an open relationship work will be useful in closed or monogamous relationships too. First, everyone involved in the relationship has to really want it: they have to be engaged, active, willing participants. While this is obviously crucial in open relationships in order to make sure that one partner doesn’t feel pressured or dragged into something they’re not ready for, this is also an important point for closed relationships. Continue Reading →

Hard Relationship Truths

Knowing if and when to end a relationship is one of the toughest things about relationships. Part of the problem is that every relationship is different, so no amount of relationship advice will apply to each situation (except, perhaps, Plato’s “Know thyself”). We’re also not exposed to a lot of healthy, realistic models for ending relationships; pop culture is full of dramatastic break-ups after which the lovers realize they’re miserable without each other so they get back together (or self-destruct, or destroy each other; you see where I’m going with this). Learning to face hard relationship truths can help mitigate some of these problems. I was pleased to discover a convenient list of hard relationship truths in a Captain Awkward post that is, on the surface, about managing a difficult non-monogamous relationship. However, there are also these gems, on which I encourage everyone to meditate:

You can have really good sex with people who are not good partners for you. Continue Reading →

Book Review: What Does Polyamory Look Like? By Mim Chapman

Psychologist Alice Kahn Ladas introduces “What Does Polyamory Look Like?” as “delightfully lighthearted, inclusively descriptive, and relevantly self-revealing,” and I agree with this assessment. For anyone interested in learning about open relationships – possibly to practice them, counsel people in them, or understand friends or family in them – this book offers a helpful overview of the basic forms this lifestyle can take. The first two chapters contain simple introductory material about polyamory, which the author defines as “a lifestyle based on the belief that it is not only possible but also perfectly normal to love more than one person at the same time.” In distinguishing polyamory from swinging, Chapman writes that the former allows more freedom to develop emotional intimacy with others while the latter emphasizes sexual intimacy. This distinction may not be universally accepted (I’ve seen polyamory used as the umbrella term under which swinging falls, for instance), but it’s the author’s right to define terms as she’ll use them throughout her work. Continue Reading →

Open Marriage In The News

As is often the case, topics in the news prompt people to think about the concepts being discussed and possible to evaluate them in a new light. Currently, thanks to Newt Gingrich, the spotlight is on open marriage. The concept of open marriages or open relationships is far from new, however. It’s simply that most people in open relationships do not see the benefits to being “out” about them, much as gays and lesbians remained closeted (and some still do) out of legitimate fears of retaliation from people in their communities. One of the reasons, too, that open relationships are not widely discussed is that they’re difficult to label and define. Continue Reading →

Are Multi-Partner Relationships Good For Kids?

More and more people are identifying as non-monogamous or polyamorous, meaning that they ethically pursue multi-partner relationships. The effect of such relationships upon children, however, is the subject of vigorous debate with potentially harsh consequences. This article reports on some of the studies thus far, both rigorously researched and informally carried out. However, there hasn’t been a lot of research done on this topic, partly because it’s been under most scholars’ radar, and partly because poly parents are reluctant to speak to anyone “official” for fear that they’ll be judged unfit as parents. As the author points out, there is a “common perception that children in poly (and nonheterosexual) families are at higher risk for sexual abuse than those in monogamous families,” which is actually unfounded, but must be considered by anyone in these situations. Continue Reading →

Canada’s Polygamy/Polyamory Ruling

As you may or may not know, Canada’s courts recently made a decision on whether polygamy and other formalized non-monogamous commitments were to be considered criminal. Covered here by Polyamory in the News, the case has a number of fascinating features. The chief judge stated that the law is meant to protect women and children from the abuses that can result in the forms of polygyny practiced by some extreme Christian sects, whereas relationships between multiple consenting adults that are not formalized by marriage (such as a polyamorous triad living together) are not illegal. Interestingly, the case created an unconventional alliance between polyamorous pagans and polygamous Christians, as pointed out in The Wild Hunt’s coverage of the case. As they point out, simply having a marriage ceremony could theoretically criminalize a multi-partner arrangement, which “Considering how many Canadian Pagan polyamorous families have had public marriage/handfasting ceremonies this interpretation of the law places them on the same legal footing as a polygamous Mormon (or Muslim) household.” Continue Reading →

Compersion In Love, Sex, And Friendship

“Compersion” is a word used in non-monogamous circles that describes the emotion of feeling happy for a lover when they’re happy, specifically due to interactions with another lover. Sound confusing, or impossible due to jealousy? It doesn’t have to be. The idea behind compersion is that if you really care about someone, you want them to be happy. You want them to have experiences that feel good and bring them joy. Continue Reading →